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Veterans Manu Vatuvei and Thomas Leuluai (both pictured) along with Nathan Friend and Simon Mannering are the four finalists for the premier Lion Red Player of the Year title to be announced at the Vodafone Warriors annual NRL awards dinner at SKYCITY tonight. Photo: Photosport

Also announced will be the Canterbury of New Zealand NRL Clubman of the Year, the Vodafone NRL Rookie of the Year and the Vodafone Peoples Player of the Year, the latter decided by a public vote.

All four finalists for the player of the year award made outstanding contributions in a season which saw the Vodafone Warriors narrowly miss out on making the finals.

After missing the opening three games of the season, Friend finished just short of 1000 tackles in 21 consecutive appearances. With 989 tackles he ranks sixth among all players, his average of 47.1 tackles per match bettered by a fraction by only one player, Canberra loose forward Shaun Fensom (47.3).

In his first season back home after eight seasons in England, Leuluai was one of four Vodafone Warriors to appear in all 24 games and the only to be on the field for all 1920 minutes. He scored six tries, made 10 line breaks (only Vatuvei and Konrad Hurrell made more), was third for most try assists and fourth for most tackle breaks.

If Mannering wins the award tonight he would become the first three-time winner in the clubs history. He missed only one match through injury and averaged 79 minutes a game easily the most by any of the forwards in a season in which he averaged just on 10 runs and 80 metres a game complemented by an average 33 tackles a game (759 in total, the third highest for the team).

Vatuvei, in line to become a two-times winner in his 10th NRL season, topped the Vodafone Warriors try scoring chart yet again with 16 in 19 games to lift his career tally to 118 in 171 games (he has been top or top equal try scorer for each of the last seven years). He led the teams line breaks with 15, was second for most average metres per game (115) and second for most tackle breaks (64).

In contention for the Vodafone Rookie of the Year award are prop Charlie Gubb, wing Ngani Laumape and prop Suaia Matagi.

The event programme will also feature some special presentations.

Prop Jacob Lillyman will receive his 100-game ring after bringing up his century of games for the Vodafone Warriors in the final match of the season (the 22nd player to do so for the club).

A presentation will also be made to Vatuvei to mark his 10th season in the NRL, only the fifth player to achieve the mark for the Vodafone Warriors.

Also announced will be the SKYCITY Legacy Award.

A feature of the entertainment programme will be a performance by New Zealand X Factor winner Jackie Thomas.

Previous Vodafone Warriors Player of the Year Award winners have been:

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
Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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