Howick Hornets second-rower Dion Snell has capped off a breakthrough year by being named 2014 Appliance Shed Fox Memorial Lion Red Player of the Year.
Snell was the outright winner at the Auckland Rugby League awards held at Alexandra Park last night, taking the prize ahead of a host of former NRL and Test stars currently playing in the Fox.
In his third year playing in the competition, 20-year-old Snell took his game to another level this season thanks to an increased knowledge of the game to accompany his powerful style and sheer physical presence.
Howick Hornets coach Zebastian Luisi said it was reward for a season of dedication and sacrifice from Snell.
“Dion has always had raw talent, raw power, raw everything,” Luisi said.
“But he took it upon himself to learn the game and do what he does best. He took everything on board and it has obviously paid off.
“He didn’t think anything of it when he got nominated for Player of the Year, because the quality of players who were nominated meant it could have gone to anyone.
“He has every chance to step up now and move on to something more in rugby league.”
Despite experiencing an indifferent year in regards to on-field success, players from the Otahuhu Leopards claimed two major awards.
Twenty-year-old Teuila Fotu-Moala took out the Female Player of the Year award, and Jamal Hunt, 18, won the Kahawai Productions Rookie of the Year.
After guiding Pt Chevalier to the minor premiership as well as this Saturday’s grand final, Grant Pocklington was named Coach of the Year, while his fullback Siua Otunuku was the competition’s highest try scorer with 24 regular season tries.
The SAS Sharman Cup Player of the Year went to Te Atatu forward Sala Falelua, who had a large contingent of family and friends turn out to applaud him on the night.
The Mandron Masonry Phelan Shield Player of the Year was Pakuranga halfback Virgil Tangohau, who in his first year playing in the competition has taken his team through to the grand final against Mt Wellington.
Special guests on the night included MP for Mt Roskill Phil Goff, Sir Peter Leitch KNZM QSM and Cathy Friend QSM, who this year became the first ever female to be made a life member of the New Zealand Rugby League.
Full list of ARL award winners
Club Volunteer of the Year | Bill Norrie (Te Atatu)
Club Administrator of the Year | Niki Wallace (Northcote)
Club of the Year | Mt Wellington
Mandron Masonry Phelan Shield Nominated Players of the Year:
Glenfield | Dan Rogers
Hibiscus Coast | Ethan McGuire
Mt Wellington | Taylor Smith
Navy | Sam Dickey
Pakuranga | Virgil Tangohau
Ponsonby | Stuart Ta’avao
Pukekohe | Roland Helling
Mandron Masonry Phelan Shield Player of the Year | Virgil Tangohau
SAS Sharman Cup Nominated Players of the Year:
Bay Roskill | Steve Smith
East Coast Bays | Alan Zaharia
Ellerslie | Andrew Bob
Manurewa | King Vuniyayawa
Manukau | Bradley McGregor
New Lynn | Kyle Neal
Otara | Saipani Aiolupo
Papatoetoe | Peter Bell
Te Atatu | Sala Falelua
Waitemata | Ali Lata
SAS Sharman Cup Player of the Year | Sala Falelua
Appliance Shed Fox Memorial Nominated Players of the Year:
Glenora | Ben McCallum
Howick | Dion Snell
Mangere East | Zion Tesese
Marist | Kaleni Fraser
Mt Albert | Tulson Caird
Northcote | Mao Uta
Otahuhu | Sione Feao
Papakura | William Stowers
Pt Chevalier | Siua Otunuku
Richmond | Karl Simeti
Kiwi Shield | Pt Chevalier
Konica Minolta Roope Rooster | Pt Chevalier
Referee of the Year | Shane Rehm
Female Player of the Year | Teuila Fotu-Moala (Otahuhu)
Lance Painter Rose Bowl Goal Kicker of the Year | Cody Walker (Mt Albert) 90 goals
Masters Rugby League Cup Try Scorer of the Year | Siua Otunuku (Pt Chevalier) 24 tries
Rookie of the Year | Jamal Hunt (Otahuhu)
Coach of the Year | Grant Pocklington (Pt Chevalier)
Appliance Shed Fox Memorial Team of the Year:
Fullback | Siua Otunuku (Pt Chevalier)
Winger | Saula Solomona (Pt Chevalier)
Centre | Josh Tamaseu-Russell (Marist)
Five-eighth | William Stowers (Papakura)
Halfback | Simon Ieremia (Marist)
Prop | Kaleni Fraser (Marist)
Hooker | Tevita Latu (Pt Chevalier)
Second-rower | Dion Snell (Howick)
Lock | Tulson Caird (Mt Albert)
Appliance Shed Fox Memorial Lion Red Player of the Year | Dion Snell (Howick)