Newcastle rugby: Belgian back-rower collects John Hipwell Medal

NON STOP: Tom Coupe

NON STOP: Tom Coupe

TOM Coupe moved to Australia from Belgium to experience a different part of the world and develop as a rugby player.

On Saturday, the power-packed No.8 helped steer Hamilton to a fourth straight premiership and collected the John Hipwell Medal for player of the match.

The 27-year-old was strong at the line-out, pilfered possession at the breakdown and made a series of busts early in the second half to put the Hawks on the front foot.

“The first half we tried to push it too much,” Coupe said. “Second half we went back to basics.”

Coupe joined the Hawks on the recommendation of countryman and friend Mathieu Verschelden, who was a part of last year’s premiership-winning side.

“I have won two premierships in Belgium but this is a different level,” he said. “It’s great to be here and part of the club. The club took me in and have taken great care of me, made me feel at home.”

Verschelden, a rugged lock, left after one season but Coupe hopes to stay at least for a second campaign.

“I came here to improve and play a different level of rugby,” he said. “I will try and stick around.”