NZ skipper Simon Mannering has captured NZ rugby league’s top honour for 2014, taking out the Kiwis Player of the Year category at tonight’s national awards.
The Warriors second rower had a year to remember, bringing up his 200th NRL game for the club and 100th as captain in spectacular style, scoring two tries in a victory over the Newcastle Knights.
After taking out the Warriors Player of the Year award for the fourth time, Mannering took his tremendous form into the international season, where he led his side to the Four Nations title, defeating Australia twice in the process.
It was the first time in more than 60 years that the Kiwis had achieved this in the same calendar year.
Mannering (28) had to fight off challenges from team-mates Shaun Johnson and Jesse Bromwich, either of which would have been worthy winners. Johnson was Man of the Match in both victories over the Kangaroos, while Bromwich compiled a breakout year that saw him emerge as one of the world’s top front rowers.
“It’s humbling to win this, with the quality of other two guys and other players in our group,” said Mannering.
“It was a very special year for NZ Rugby League, not just the Kiwis, but also the Kiwi Ferns and the Junior Kiwis.
“There’s a lot of desire for the game in this country, and it was great to have the opportunity to player here in the Four Nations tournament and reward that support with some success.”
Honours for international rookie of the year went to giant North Queensland forward Jason Taumalolo (21), who was in rampaging form for his NRL club and finally made his debut for the Kiwis after a couple of years in waiting.
Counties Manukau wing Atawhai Tupaea took out Women’s Player of the Year, after leading all tryscorers at last year’s national tournament and crossing in the Kiwi Ferns’ win over Australia in November.
Canterbury’s Ken Tofilau missed out on the NZ 18s Player of the Year, but was adjudged New Zealand’s best domestic player through the Pirtek National Premiership, while the Hornby Panthers of Christchurch took out Grassroots Club of the Year.
The full list of winners was:
Kiwis Player of the Year – Simon Mannering (NZ Warriors)
Finalists – Shaun Johnson (NZ Warriors), Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm)
Kiwis Rookie of the Year – Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys)
Finalists – Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), Peta Hiku (Manly Sea Eagles)
Domestic Player of the Year – Ken Tofilau (Southern)
Finalists – Jethro Friend (Counties Manukau), Cody Walker (Akarana)
Junior Player of the Year – Sam Lisone (NZ Warriors)
Finalists – Bradley Abbey (NZ Warriors), Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm)
18s Player of the Year – Reuben Porter (Akarana)
Finalists – Erin Clark (Akarana), Ken Tofilau (Southern)
16s Player of the Year – Rory Ferguson (Southern)
Finalists – Dylan Clark (Upper Central), Morgan Harper (Upper Central)
Women’s Player of the Year – Atawhai Tupaea (Counties Manukau)
Finalists – Sarina Fiso (Counties Manukau), Teuila Fotu-Moala (Counties Manukau)
Match Official of the Year – Anthony Eliott
Male Volunteer of the Year – Jasen McCarthy (Akarana)
Finalists – Carey Clements (Wellington), Grant Coward (Mid Central)
Female Volunteer of the Year – Maree Hawkins (Upper Central)
Finalists – Georgina Luke (Mid Central), Sharon Tarapipipi (Southern)
Grassroots Club of the Year – Hornby Panthers (Southern)
Finalists – Otangarei Knights (Northland), Pacific Sharks (Upper Central)