2018 RLPA Awards

Discussion in 'General Rugby League' started by rhugh89, Aug 30, 2018.

  1. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Players' Champion nominations: The 64 contenders

    Dan Walsh
    Thu 30 Aug 2018, 02:00 PM

    The NRL's new generation of showstoppers lead a star-studded 64-man short list for the RLPA's prestigious Players' Champion award.

    Under revamped voting rules, every contracted player in the game can have their say on the highest peer-voted honour in rugby league, and it's some of the game's youngest and most entertaining stars tipped to battle it out for the honour in 2018.

    Newcastle wunderkind Kalyn Ponga, Rabbitohs rake Damien Cook and Roosters powerhouse Latrell Mitchell are all revelling in breakout campaigns, while Melbourne maestro Cameron Munster is also expected to feature heavily when the final votes for the Players' Champion are tallied.

    Four players from each club have been nominated for opponents to vote via a 3-2-1 basis, with the RLPA's Top 13 Dream Team, rookie, women's and representative players of the year also to be announced at September 11 event.

    With around 5000 games of NRL experience retiring at the end of 2018, several old hands are bowing out on top with veterans Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and James Maloney nominated for the top gong.

    Overwhelmingly though the shortlist is dripping with young talent – with the likes of James Roberts, Valentine Holmes, the Trbojevic brothers, Viliame Kikau and Luke Brooks all earning a start, as well as 2017 champion James Tedesco.

    Here are the nominees

    Brisbane: Jamayne Isaako, Corey Oates, Joe Ofahengaue, James Roberts

    Canberra: Josh Papalii, Jordan Rapana, Joseph Tapine, Elliot Whitehead

    Canterbury: Will Hopoate, Josh Jackson, David Klemmer, Josh Morris

    Cronulla: Valentine Holmes, Matt Moylan, Matt Prior, Andrew Fifita

    Gold Coast: Jai Arrow, Michael Gordon, Ryan James, Anthony Don

    Manly: Joel Thompson, Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic, Daly Cherry-Evans

    Melbourne: Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Cameron Munster, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater

    Newcastle: Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Aidan Guerra, Kalyn Ponga, Sione Mata'utia

    New Zealand Warriors: Issac Luke, Ken Maumalo, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Blake Green

    North Queensland: Kyle Feldt, Jason Taumalolo, Johnathan Thurston, Gavin Cooper

    Parramatta: Daniel Alvaro, George Jennings, Tepai Moeroa, Mitchell Moses

    Penrith: James Fisher-Harris, Viliame Kikau, Isaah Yeo, James Maloney

    South Sydney: Damien Cook, Angus Crichton, Cody Walker, Sam Burgess

    St George Illawarra: Cameron McInnes, Tariq Sims, Gareth Widdop, Paul Vaughan

    Sydney Roosters: Blake Ferguson, Luke Keary, James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell

    Wests Tigers: Luke Brooks, Esan Marsters, Corey Thompson, Ben Matulino

  2. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Players' Champion: The five finalists for RLPA's top honour

    Dan Walsh
    Thu 6 Sep 2018, 02:01 PM

    NRL players have declared the hype around some of their most in-demand colleagues justified in voting Kalyn Ponga, Damien Cook, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Valentine Holmes and Cameron Munster the finalists for this year's RPLA Players' Champion award.

    Each of the quintet have been acknowledged by their peers for superb 2018 seasons, which will end with Holmes and Munster, in particular, being clamoured over as the hottest targets in the 2019 player market.

    Both Cronulla and the Storm are hellbent on hanging onto their respective talents, but the Cowboys are looming large in pursuit of both along with a host of NRL rivals.

    Tuivasa-Sheck and Ponga have both been acknowledged by the New Zealand All Blacks – one of world sport's most successful teams – as stars they'd love to lure into their fold, with the Warriors captain weighing up a serious rugby bid before re-signing until the end of 2022.

    Cook is expected to ink a deserved upgrade and extension with the Rabbitohs after rising from back-up hooking duties just 12 months ago to a starring role in NSW's Origin series win and South Sydney's title charge.

    These five players polled the most votes in the new system where every NRL contracted player had the opportunity to vote in a 3-2-1 system from the contenders list in a survey sent to the RLPA's membership.

    The RLPA said there was an "outstanding response from players across the competition who have had their say".

    With three fullbacks polling so heavily in the voting, it shows the importance of this role and the fact that all five nominees are nearing the prime of their career signals a changing of the guard as the NRL moves to an era no longer dominated by four-time Players' Champion winner Johnathan Thurston and the likes of Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith.

    The Players' Champion trophy will be presented at Doltone House in Sydney on September 11 along with awards for the best rookie, representative and women's player of the year.

    Valentine Holmes (Sharks)

    Took a while to get going as Cronulla juggled their fullback options but has made the Sharks No.1 jersey his own. Finished the regular season with 21 tries and Shane Flanagan saying he'd "sell one floor of the leagues club" to keep him as the Cowboys try to lure him back to Townsville.

    Damien Cook (Rabbitohs)

    Wrestled his way into the cardinal and myrtle No.9 jersey via one-on-one sessions over the summer with UFC champ Rob Whittaker. Now reigns supreme as the game's best running rake and the Rabbitohs' most lethal attacking weapon, with a maiden Kangaroos start set to follow in the end-of-season internationals.

    Kalyn Ponga (Knights)

    Arrived in Newcastle with more hype than any teen since Brad Fittler, and delivered on every bit of it as the competition's most entertaining player. Earned a Queensland Origin debut by June and was among the Maroons best … playing 53 minutes from the bench as a 92-kilo loose forward. Limitless potential.

    Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors)

    Signed two years ago as the biggest recruit in Warriors history and delivered in spades as their skipper this season, leading them to their first finals appearance since 2011. Back to his spellbinding best with ball in hand. Impressive defence and leadership qualities have been added to his repertoire.

    Cameron Munster (Storm)

    Started 2018 admitting he needed to address off-field issues and having done so, has gone to a new level on the paddock. Melbourne are prepared to make him the face of their franchise in the post-Big Three era, faith well-founded given his superb rise this year as the best running five-eighth in the game.

  3. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Kalyn Ponga crowned 2018 RLPA Players' Champion

    Margie McDonald Senior Reporter
    Tue 11 Sep 2018, 09:20 PM

    Newcastle fullback Kalyn Ponga has created history by becoming the youngest winner of the RLPA Players' Champion.

    The 20-year-old Knights star received the peer-voted award at the Players' Champion presentation at Doltone House in Sydney on Tuesday night and it signals the changing of the guard in rugby league, according to RLPA chief executive Ian Prendergast.

    With premiership-winners and 300-game players of the calibre of Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater, Luke Lewis, Sam Thaiday and Chris Heighington leaving the game, the younger brigade led by the likes of Ponga, Cameron Munster and Nathan Cleary are stepping up.

    The award began in 2004 to recognise excellence both on and off the field.

    It's been quite a season for Newcastle's goal-kicking fullback.

    In his 20 appearances for his new club, the former Cowboy produced six tries, 11 try assists, 12 line breaks and 140 tackle breaks. He also ran an average of 142 metres per game.

    Those kind of statistics earned him a maiden Holden State of Origin series call-up for Queensland, playing game two off the bench and producing an eye-catching display.

    But his emergence alongside other rising talent comes at a poignant time in the NRL.

    "We have witnessed somewhat of a changing of the guard in 2018, with the emergence of young stars with plenty of character and a number of the game’s longest servants retiring," Prendergast said.

    Ponga edged out a few other youngs stars from the list of finalists that included Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster, 23, Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 25, Sharks flyer Valentine Holmes, 23, and Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook, 27.

    Previous winners include James Tedesco (2017), Jason Taumalolo (2016), Danny Buderus (2004) and Johnathan Thurston (2005, 2013-15). Thurston always said that in his list of awards won, he considered the RLPA trophy "the highest individual accolade a player can receive".

    "It's incredible that at such a young age, Kalyn has already gained the recognition from his fellow players as the best performer in 2018," Prendergast said.

    "Despite the Knights not making it through to the finals this season, Kalyn continued to put in dominant performances throughout in his first-year at the club.

    "The RLPA membership have had their say and for a 20-year-old to be voted the best by his peers, it just shows what a prestigious talent the Newcastle custodian is.

    "On behalf of the RLPA, I want to congratulate Kalyn and all other award recipients at tonight’s event."

    The RLPA provided more than 500 contracted NRL players with a list of 64 players (four from each club) in contention for the established Players' Champion award and the recently introduced Players' 13 Dream Team.

    The players voted for their champion picks on a 3-2-1 system based on their performance across the entire 2018 season.

    Players were unable to vote for their teammates, while no points were deducted for serving suspensions.

    St George Illawarra Dragons star Jason Nightingale received the Dennis Tutty Award for 2018, recognising his contribution in the player wellbeing and education space.

    Tutty, a former Balmain, Penrith and Australian player, was on hand to present Nightingale with the honour.

    Australian Jillaroos star and captain of the Sydney Roosters WNRL side, Simaima Taufa, was recognised as the Elite Women’s Player of the Year for her strong World Cup campaign.

    North Queensland powerhouse Jason Taumalolo continued the rise of Tonga in the international arena, edging out finalists from Australia, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea to be named Representative Player of the Year.

    Perhaps one of the hottest contested awards of the night was Rookie of the Year, with Sydney Roosters hitman Victor Radley emerging with the most votes from his peers, ahead of Jamayne Isaako (Broncos), AJ Brimson (Titans), Rhyse Martin (Bulldogs) and Jesse Ramien (Sharks).


    The Players' Champion: Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights)

    The Players' 13 Dream Team: Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights), Valentine Holmes (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Latrell Mitchell (Sydney Roosters), Esan Marsters (Wests Tigers), Jamayne Isaako (Brisbane Broncos), Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm), Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys), Andrew Fifita (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm), Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers), Tariq Sims (St George Illawarra Dragons), Jake Trbojevic (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)

    Rookie of the Year: Victor Radley (Sydney Roosters)

    Dennis Tutty Award: Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons)

    Representative Player of the Year: Jason Taumalolo (Tonga)


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