A typically humble Esava Ratugolea was unaware that he was even up for the Barooga Sports Club/Cobram Courier Junior Sports Star of the Year.
Ratugolea was unable to attend the awards night due to football commitments in Geelong, but was gracious when talking about the honour of the award.
‘‘Obviously this is a really great honour to take out this award,’’ he said.
‘‘Some really great sports people have won it in the past — so to be recognised as good enough for it is a great thrill.
‘‘Everyone who was nominated in both the juniors and seniors category really deserved it, so I do feel lucky.’’
Ratugolea winning the award was not a surprise to anyone else, due to him being drafted with the 43rd pick in November’s AFL Draft to the Geelong Cats.
It was a big 2016 for Ratugolea, with an eight-goal haul for the Murray Bushrangers in the TAC and being called up into the Country Victoria under-18 national championships team some of the highlights.
‘‘Looking back now, it was a lot to do and I am pretty proud of it all, and I know my family is too,’’ he said.
Ratugolea is at the end of his first professional pre-season for Geelong, with the AFL season set to begin for the Cats on March 26.
Accepting the award on Ratugolea’s behalf was Cobram Football Netball Club’s Brendan Brooks, who told the audience Ratugolea would be ‘‘stoked’’ with the honour.
‘‘He’s a very humble fellow and he would be honoured to win this award,’’ Brooks said.
●Other nominees for the junior award were: Cameron Johnston (athletics), Emma Nolan (swimming), Laney Chadwick (wakeboarding), Hunter Rich (motocross), Seth Rich (motocross), Izac Artavilla (cricket), Riley Gow (football) and Steffi Vogel (golf).