Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck became just the fifth back in the Warriors’ history to be named the NRL Player of the Year when he took out the title at the club’s 23rd season-closing presentation at SKYCITY tonight.
He’s the first backline player to receive the accolade since club great Manu Vatuvei in 2010 while the only other backs recognised have been Francis Meli (2003), Stacey Jones (1997) and Tea Ropati (1995).
The other 18 winners have been split between 12 forwards with Simon Mannering winning it five times and Steve Price and Ben Matulino twice each.
After another rock-solid campaign, veteran back rower Mannering was among the finalists once again this time as was halfback Shaun Johnson but 24-year-old fullback Tuivasa-Sheck headed them off after impressing throughout a challenging season.
Coming back from knee surgery, Tuivasa-Sheck appeared in all but one of the Warriors’ 24 games, scoring 10 tries (his second highest tally in his six seasons in the NRL behind the 12 he scored in 2015). Only wing David Fusitu’a (12) scored more tries for the team this year.
In the club’s final match against Wests Tigers, Tuivasa-Sheck made 207 metres from 18 runs, the 13th time he gained 200 metres or more during the season. His total of 4172 metres – an average of 181.4 metres a game – was bettered by only North Queensland’s Jason Taumalolo (4469) and Cronulla’s Paul Gallen (4387) in the regular season.
Tuivasa-Sheck also stood out in a number of other categories (stats not including the finals):
- Second for most runs with 445 (an average of 19.5 a game) behind Gallen’s 465 runs
- First for kicks defused (82)
- First for bomb kicks defused (30)
- First for kick returns (141)
- Second equal for try saves (4)
- Fourth for kick return metres (1255)
- Eighth for tackle breaks (106)
- And 13th for line breaks (16)
The 31-year-old Mannering won the People’s Choice Award tonight after a season in which he went past Jones’ club record of 261 appearances. He finished on 280 games to leave him on track to become the first player to reach 300 NRL matches for the Warriors.
Mannering clocked 986 tackles (the second most in the regular season) – an average of 44.8 a game – as well as averaging 14.8 runs and 128.3 metres a game while making just six errors. Last year he averaged 47.4 tackles, 11.3 runs and 90 metres a game.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who made his NRL debut this year, was named the Clubman of the Year while Bunty Afoa was singled out as the NRL Rookie of the Year ahead of Ata Hingano and Nicoll-Klokstad. In his first full first-grade campaign, Afoa made 17 appearances.
The Warriors finished just one game short of reaching the Intrust Super Premiership final after losing to Wyong 12-16 on Sunday.
Finalists for the ISP Player of the Year were Matt Allwood, James Bell, Mason Lino and Ofahiki Ogden with captain and halfback Lino taking out the award. A finalist in the ISP’s overall player of the year award, Lino scored 154 points and also made an NRL comeback with six appearances.
The Vodafone ISP Team Man of the Year went to utility Sam Cook, who was used in multiple positions while missing just one game all season. Other finalists were Daniel Palavi and Semisi Fotu.
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS AWARDS | 2017
Sir Peter Leitch Member of the Year – TeKanawa Harris
People’s Choice Award – Simon Mannering
NYC Rookie of the Year – Tyler Slade
ISP Team Man of the Year – Sam Cook
NRL Rookie of the Year – Bunty Afoa
Club Person of the Year – Georgia Hale
Clubman – Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
NYC Clubman of the Year – Kenese Kenese
NYC Player of the Year – Chanel Harris-Tavita
ISP Player of the Year – Mason Lino
NRL Player of the Year – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS PLAYER OF THE YEAR | 1995-2017
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
2017 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS | ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Departing players | Ofahiki Ogden, Erin Clark (#216), Toafofoa Sipley (#212), Matt Allwood (#199), Kieran Foran (#217), Charlie Gubb (#183), Tuimoala Lolohea (#192), Bodene Thompson (#194), Ryan Hoffman (#195), Jacob Lillyman (#146), Ben Matulino (#142), Manu Vatuvei (#115).
New Zealand Warriors debuts | Isaiah Papali’i (#215), Erin Clark (#216), Kieran Foran (#217), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (#218), Chris Satae (#219), James Bell (#220).
(Main photo: warriors.kiwi).