Above: Greg Foe in action in his side's recent 50-26 win over Jubilee Cup semi-finalist Hutt Old Boys Marist.
“I couldn't sit back and drop lip about it. I had to stay occupied and keep a positive head,” Greg Foe answered when questioned about what he learnt breaking his arm before the NPC last year.
Foe missed the entire NPC competition but has bounced back positively winning the 2018 Wellington club rugby Best & Fairest competition.
Foe finished the season on 23 points in the Billy Wallace competition, which is named after the former Poneke and Wellington fullback of the early 1900s who was named in an all-time best Wellington XV at the turn of the millennium.
Foe wrapped up his victory nearly a month ago – not collecting any points from his team’s final two matches, which included a 50-33 slaying of HOBM and two tries for him that day. In fact, Foe effectively won the competition in the first round, his only points in the Jubilee Cup coming from his side’s fifth round 18-14 win over Old Boys University.
Foe played every match for Poneke this season and all but one of these at No. 8. He had five Player of the Day performances in the Swindale Shield round.
“I’m proud to win the Billy Wallace, but it's not about me, it's about the good work the boys did to get me into that position,” Foe said.
“I’ve been at Poneke for seven years and this season was the closeted we got to making the Jubilee semi-finals. I think we can be proud of that.”
Foe has been helping coach sevens at St Pat’s Town and played for the Wellington XV in their defeat against Auckland on Friday.
This year’s selectors have been the match officials (previously Dominion Post writers) This year the competition was re-incorporated to include players from both the Jubilee Cup and Hardham Cup teams after the Dominion Post had dropped coverage of the Hardham Cup in recent seasons.
The Billy Wallace Best and Fairest competition has been running continuously in Wellington club rugby since 1966. The first winner was then All Blacks flanker Tom Lister of the now defunct Athletic club. Last year the competition was jointly won by Tawa’s Hemi Fermanis and Wainuiomata’s Ben Tupuola, who was also a previous winner.
The last 10 winners have been: 2009 Misipaulauni Moananu (Poneke); 2010 Mateaki Kafatolu (Petone); 2011 Liu Taituave (MSP); 2012 Shahn Eru (Wainuiomata) and Ardie Savea (Ories); 2013 Sam Tui (Poneke); 2014 Ben Tupuola (Wainuiomata); 2015 TJ Fermanis (Tawa) and Adam Deck (Ories); 2016 Peniasi Tokakece (Tawa); 2017 Ben Tupuola (Wainuiomata) and Hemi Fermanis (Tawa); 2018 Greg Foe (Poneke).
Previous Poneke winners include Don Cederwall (1975), Dave Mahanga (1980 and 1984), Ritchie Blackmore (1989), Ofisa Tonu'u (1991), James Ogden (1996), Richard Watt (1997), Dane Coles (2007) Misipaulauni Moananu (2009) and Sam Tui (2013).
Foe played 16 of his 19 Premier games this season for Poneke at No. 8, twice at openside flanker and once at blindside flanker. Loose forward is by far and away the most popular winning position to win this competition.
Some 29 of the 64 winners (including joint winners) have been exclusively loose forwards, with a few others having won playing both loose forward and lock – Shahn Eru (2012) and Hemi Fermanis (2017) being two examples.
Three former Best & Fairest winners passed away over the past year. Original winner Tom Lister died at the end of July 2017, while 1967 and 1976 joint winner Graham Williams (Wellington) and 1970 joint winner Huia Hutton (Athletic) both passed on earlier this season.
The final points table following the Jubilee Cup and Hardham Cup finals on Saturday is shrouded in mystery but Foe had wrapped up the competition before finals day, which his team wasn’t involved in.