(Main photo: Taumalolo takes the ball forward for the Kiwis. Credit: photosport.nz).
Kiwi international forward Jason Taumalolo has been crowned the RLPA 2016 Players’ Champion for 2016, as voted by his NRL peers.
Off the back of a 2015 premiership-winning season with North Queensland, Otahuhu-junior Taumalolo accepted his award from Townsville where the Cowboys are preparing for Friday night’s semi-final.
“This is right up there as the best and biggest award you can win as a player, and to be voted by my peers is very special,” Taumalolo said.
“Thank you to the RLPA for everything they do, their support for the players is so big.”
The award is the most prestigious at the RLPA event, with NRL players submitting their votes from each game throughout the season.
There were plenty of other Kiwi winners on the night, with Kiwi Ferns playmaker Georgie Hale winning the New Zealand Representative Women’s Player of the Year and Storm front-rower Jesse Bromwich winning the male equivalent.
Retiring former Kiwi international Dene Halatau and Ben Henry were also recognised with awards.
Along with Henry, Wellington-born Sam Tagataese won the Academic Pacifica Player of the Year.
2016 RLPA AWARD WINNERS:
- The Players’ Champion – Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys)
- Rookie of the Year – Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
- Dennis Tutty Award – Dene Halatau (Wests Tigers)
- Australian Representative Player – Greg Inglis (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
- New Zealand Representative Player – Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm)
- Rest of the World Representative Player – James Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs)
- Australian Representative Women’s Player of the Year – Samantha Bremner (Australian Jillaroos)
- New Zealand Representative Women’s Player of the Year – Georgie Hale (New Zealand Kiwi Ferns)
- NYC Player of the Year – Nat Butcher (Sydney Roosters)
- Origin Greats – Matt Sing, Gary Belcher and Benny Elias
- Academic Indigenous Player of the Year – Dane Gagai (Newcastle Knights)
- Academic Pacifica Player of the Year – Sam Tagataese (Cronulla Sharks) and Ben Henry (New Zealand Warriors)
- NRL and NYC Academic Team of the Year – Josh Jackson (Canterbury Bulldogs) and Jacob Liddle (Wests Tigers NYC)