SYDNEY, Australia -- New South Wales openside flanker Michael Hooper has been named the 2013 Australian Super Rugby player of the year after receiving 21 votes, four more than his nearest challengers.
The 21-year-old Hooper finished ahead of ACT Brumbies veteran George Smith and Will Genia of Queensland, who won the award the previous two years.
The Australian Rugby Union said in a statement Thursday that Hooper polled votes in nine rounds of the competition, with four of those matches rated as man-of-the-match efforts. Smith led until the final two rounds of the season.
The award was decided in voting by 18 Australian media members on a 3-2-1 points basis for each Super Rugby match involving an Australian team.
Waratahs fullback Israel Folau was named rookie of the year after switching codes for a second time following two years in Australian Rules football, preceded by a successful rugby league career.
Folau polled votes in six matches, including three man-of-the-match performances, and was also New South Wales' leading try scorer. He became a dual international with Wallabies' selection for the series against the British and Irish Lions.
Former South Africa coach Jake White was named Australian coach of the year after the Brumbies finished in first place in the Australia conference and lost in the championship final.
White was overlooked for the Wallabies job when the ARU replaced New Zealander Robbie Deans with Australian Ewen McKenzie after the Lions series loss.
White felt he was not given full consideration for the Wallabies job because he was South African and the ARU did not want another foreign-born coach.