Devonport Bulls veteran Sam O’Keeffe has been recognised as George Wilson Tasmanian Volunteer of the Year for 2023.
With North-West and Northern regional participation in rude health under his patronage, O’Keeffe’s unwavering service to both junior and senior rugby saw him narrowly edge out fellow nominees Jane Wilkinson, Simon Plumb and Justin Black for the annual award.
“I’m very honoured to receive this award, there’s a lot of people statewide who give up their time to keep rugby going,” O’Keeffe said.
“I’m very happy with the way we’ve grown, particularly up north, and I think it’s made a lot easier by the families of our players and young people who sacrifice so much to grow the game.
“They deserve a lot of respect for getting out across the state and playing wherever they need to and sometimes they don’t get that respect.
“But the proof is there with our programs and our young players like the Hunters (Hunter Cooper and Hunter Cross) and Charlie Menzies making opportunities for themselves.”
A Bulls stalwart both on and off the field, O’Keeffe capped his own playing season last weekend in Devonport’s 42-22 preliminary final loss to Taroona.
“It was a pretty tough year for our seniors and we probably just lacked a bit of consistency throughout the season,” he said.
“All in all, probably finished where we deserved in third– Taroona and Launceston have been the form teams all year – but I think we came a long way given we lost 98-12 to Launceston back in Round 2.
“We had some ups and downs and I know there was a bit of chat from other clubs about how we’d go after losing to Launceston like that, so disappointed to miss the grand final but pretty happy to finish third overall.”