Kiwis captain Benji Marshall and Warriors player Shaun Johnson were both acknowledged for their stellar performances during the 2011 year at the NZRL Awards held at the Raye Freedman Arts Centre in Epsom tonight.
Benji Marshall was named Kiwi player of the year while Shaun Johnson, who attended with his father and partner, was named Kiwi Rookie of the year. Jason Taumalolo, who played in the Junior Kiwis winning team at Newcastle last month, and was also a member of the North Queensland under 20s grand final side, was named the Junior Player of the year.
Winners of the Grassroots Club of the Year, the Porirua Vikings are one of the biggest clubs in the Wellington Region, have 83 volunteers and a long time commitment to their community. They are involved in a number of projects in partnership with the Porirua City Council and also receive support from the Ministry of Development to continue their work in this area.
Henry Perenara, winner of the Match official of the year, was unable to attend the awards as he refereed the England v Wales Four Nations match on the weekend, capping off a busy year in which he progressed from referring in the National Youth Competition to international appointments.
Sam Perrett, who was unable to join the end of year tour with the Kiwis due to injury, attended the awards and spoke about his trip to Christchurch in May, when he along with Nathan Cayless, Chase Stanley, Glen Turner and Anthony Cherrington, visited schools, the hospital and attended a local Community camp. He then announced the winners of the Match Official of the Year, Women's Player of the Year and Domestic Player of the Year awards.
Jim Doyle, NZRL CEO said "Every year we have a number of quality nominations and this year was no exception. It's great to see the geographic spread of our winners which reinforces the fact that rugby league is going from strength to strength across New Zealand. It's a real positive for us to be able to acknowledge our players here and in Australia. They continue to support the game by playing for their country and are an inspiration to our younger players as they follow the pathway to international success."
During the evening Richard Blackmore, Tony Tatupu and Tony Tuimavave were also honoured as past Kiwis.
2011 Award winners are:
Grassroots Club of the Year: Porirua Vikings (Wellington)
Volunteer Recognition Award (Female): Kylee Matenga (Wellington)
Volunteer Recognition Award (Male): Chris Hansen (Christchurch)
Match Official of the Year: Henry Perenara
Women's Player of the Year: Akenehe Pereira (Wellington)
Domestic Player of the Year: Matt Everitt (Wellington)
Junior Player of the Year: Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys)
Kiwi Rookie of the Year: Shaun Johnson (Warriors)
Kiwi Player of the Year: Benji Marshall (Wests Tigers)