It’s safe to say, Linwood Keas vice-captain Alex Todd is the man for the big occasion.
The hard-working prop was awarded the Mel Cooke Memorial Trophy as man of the match in the Canterbury rugby league club grand-final for the second year running last Sunday.
The 29-year-old had done plenty of hard yards in the middle of the park and was still able to find the energy to take an off-load from halfback Daniel Hartley and crash over the line for the match-winning try 2min from full-time.
Todd’s heroics secured the Keas a 20-16 win, after they were trailing 14-16, against a gallant Hornby Panthers at Rugby League Park, ensuring Linwood would be the first club since 1981 to win three finals in a row and lift the Pat Smith Trophy.
“Finals are always amazing games with the big crowd and the atmosphere, I always want to give it everything to get the win,” he said.
“Let’s face it, afterwards you can have a rest for a few weeks,” he joked.
Todd said it was an honour to win the Mel Cooke Memorial Trophy.
“To play in a final is something special but to be considered the best on the ground and win an award named after someone like Mel Cooke is great.”
Cooke was a Hornby loose forward who represented the Kiwis 23 times between 1959 and 1964.
In 1962 Cooke was captain of the first Canterbury team to win the Northern Union Cup from Auckland at the then Addington Showgrounds and was named in the New Zealand Rugby League all century team.
Todd debuted for the Keas premier team 10 years ago as a fresh-faced 18-year-old.
Keas coach Andrew Auimatagi said Todd deserved credit for his game-winning try.
“For a prop to be pushing up and looking for a pass after a tough 80min like that is nothing short of exceptional,” he said.
Todd said he didn’t check to see if the referee was going to award the try before being congratulated by his teammates.
“I took the pass and put (the ball) down and it was close to a (defender’s) boot but I got up and just started celebrating,” Todd said.
Auimatagi said: “He’s not a guy who says a lot but the boys love playing with him and for him. He’s the kind of guy who sets a quality example for the young players and that performance certainly showed it.”