(Main photo: Simon Mannering on stage at the awards evening. Credit: photosport.nz).
Tireless back rower Simon Mannering has been named the NRL Player of the Year a record fifth time in his 12-season career at the New Zealand Warriors’ 22nd annual awards dinner in Auckland on Tuesday night.
The 30-year-old is the only player in the club’s history to win the premier award more than twice, Steve Price earning the accolade in 2006 and 2007 and Ben Matulino honoured in 2012 and 2015.
The other finalists tonight were halfback Shaun Johnson, departing standoff Thomas Leuluai and second rower Bodene Thompson.
Mannering was first singled out early in his career in 2008 before earning the supreme acknowledgement again in 2011, 2013 and 2014 while he was a leading contender every other season as well, such is his consistency.
On a big night personally he was also named the winner of the Clubman of the Year Award in recognition of his all-round contribution to the club, not just on the field but off it in the community and in the way he represents the club’s values.
On the field the relentless Mannering played in 22 of the 24 games, finishing with five tries to lift his career tally to 58, fourth on the club’s all-time list. He averaged 77 minutes on the field making an average 11.2 runs, 89.95 metres and 47.36 tackles a game. It’s the second straight season he has topped 1000 tackles.
The award topped a campaign in which Mannering became only the second player after the great Stacey Jones to play 250 NRL games for the club. He finished the year on 258 matches and needs just four more games next season to move beyond Jones’ record of 261.
While Mannering collected two of the main NRL awards, the NRL Rookie of the Year was between Nathaniel Roache (Vodafone Warrior #207) and Jazz Tevaga (Vodafone Warrior #209), the only two players who qualified in terms of games played this year. They both made 11 appearances each with Roache – 19 at the time of his debut in round one – getting the nod.
Johnson, the only player to appear in all 24 games, was again voted the winner of the People’s Choice Award after a season in which he scored 10 tries and 125 points in all to lift his career total to 667, only eight short of beating another Jones record (674).
The finalists for the ISP Player of the Year were Ata Hingano, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and John Palavi. First-year Warrior Nicoll-Klokstad was the winner after a season in which he was the only player to appear in each of the side’s 24 games. Used at fullback, on the wing, in the centres and also standoff initially he was the team’s top try-scorer with 11.
The ISP Team Man of the Year went to James Bell.
Three people were acknowledged for their contributions off the field.
Susan Turner, who has worked for the club since 1995, won the newly-introduced Club Person of the Year award while Emma Harper was named the Sir Peter Leitch Member of the Year.
RadioSport commentator Allen McLaughlin was a popular recipient of the Legacy Award. The 66-year-old ‘voice of rugby league’ called his last Vodafone Warriors game at Mount Smart Stadium on September 4 after covering all but one of the club’s 254 games at the venue since 1995.
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS AWARDS | 2016
Sir Peter Leitch Member of the Year: Emma Harper
Legacy Award: Allen McLaughlin
People’s Choice Award: Shaun Johnson
NYC Rookie of the Year: Chanel Harris-Tavita
ISP Team Man of the Year: James Bell
NRL Rookie of the Year: Nathaniel Roache
Club Person of the Year Susan Turner
Club Person of the Year: Simon Mannering
NYC Player of the Year: Chris Sio
ISP Player of the Year: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
NRL Player of the Year: Simon Mannering
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS PLAYER OF THE YEAR | 1995-2016
1995 Tea Ropati
1996 Stephen Kearney
1997 Stacey Jones
1998 Joe Vagana
1999 Jason Death
2000 Robert Mears
2001 Jerry Seuseu
2002 Ali Lauitiiti
2003 Francis Meli
2004 Wairangi Koopu
2005 Ruben Wiki
2006 Steve Price
2007 Steve Price
2008 Simon Mannering
2009 Micheal Luck
2010 Manu Vatuvei
2011 Simon Mannering
2012 Ben Matulino
2013 Simon Mannering
2014 Simon Mannering
2015 Ben Matulino
2016 Simon Mannering
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS | ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Departing players | Henare Wells, Shaun Lane (#211), Jeff Robson (#205), Raymond Faitala-Mariner (#200), Jonathan Wright (#198), John Palavi (#188), Ben Henry (#173), Konrad Hurrell (#172), Sione Lousi (#159), Thomas Leuluai (#105), Ali Lauitiiti (#55).
NRL debuts | Nathaniel Roache (#207), Jazz Tevaga (#209), Toafofoa Sipley (#212), Bunty Afoa (#213), Ata Hingano (#214).
New Zealand Warriors debuts | Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (#203), Blake Ayshford (#204), Jeff Robson (#205), Issac Luke (#206), Nathaniel Roache (#207), James Gavet (#208), Jazz Tevaga (#209), Ligi Sao (#210), Shaun Lane (#211), Toafofoa Sipley (#212), Bunty Afoa (#213), Ata Hingano (#214).
150 NRL tries | Manu Vatuvei.
600 NRL points | Shaun Johnson.
250 NRL games (all for Vodafone Warriors) | Simon Mannering.
200 NRL games | Issac Luke.
150 NRL games for Vodafone Warriors | Jacob Lillyman.
50 NRL games | Sione Lousi.