In a year in which he reached three major milestones, Simon Mannering has tonight capped his 2014 season by collecting the supreme Vodafone Player of the Year Award for a record fourth time at the 20th annual Vodafone Warriors RED BALL Awards at the SKYCITY Convention Centre.
It’s the second straight year and the third time in the last four seasons that the 28-year-old captain has been named the club’s best NRL player.
And this time he was able to accept the accolade in front of more than 800 guests after missing last year’s awards dinner when his partner Anna was about to have the couple’s son Zeke.
In a season when the Vodafone Warriors failed narrowly to make the NRL finals, Mannering’s contribution was consistently outstanding as he appeared in all 24 games and equalled his career-best try tally of nine in a season (last achieved in ihis first extensive NRL campaign in 2006).
“The main reason I play the game is to work alongside my team-mates and do all I can to help the team be the best it can be,” he said.
“For me it’s always so humbling being recognised like this. I really appreciate it and thank all the players and coaches who have made this possible.
“I’d also like to thank our members and fans who are always there supporting us. We’re all disappointed with the way our season finished but we’ll all be working a lot harder to improve next year.”
The Vodafone Player of the Year accolade was Mannering’s second of the night. Earlier he was presented with the SKYCITY Legacy Award to mark his milestone 10th NRL season for the Vodafone Warriors (the sixth 10-season player in the club’s history after Stacey Jones, Awen Guttenbeil, Lance Hohaia, Jerome Ropati and Manu Vatuvei).
Mannering’s two other major personal miletone came in the first game back home at Mount Smart Stadium in June when he achieved the double of 200 NRL appearances and 100 games as Vodafone Warriors captain (he had earlier overtaken Steve Price’s captaincy record of 91 games while he is only the second player after Stacey Jones to represent the club in 200 matches).
Finishing the season with 212 games – and 112 as captain – Mannering ranked fifth for most metres (2221, an average of 93 a game) and second best among the forwards with only prop Jacob Lillyman ahead of him. He was fourth for most runs (247) and defensively he was clearly the second busiest player with 712 tackles, an average of just under 30 a game. Mannering played the full 80 minutes in 22 games, missing 26 minutes in one game and being taken off with a minute to go in another to average 79 minutes a game.
While Mannering picked up the Vodafone Player of the Year accolade, winger Manu Vatuvei was the SKYCITY NRL Players’ Player of the Year as voted on by his peers each game of the season. The 28-year-old Vatuvei had an outstanding year scoring 17 tries in 23 appearances to lift his career tally to 135 in 194 matches. That moved him inside the NRL’s all-time top 20 try scorers as he maintained his sequence of being the club’s top or top-equal try-scorer in each of the last eight seasons while he is only the second player in the competition’s history to score 10 or more tries in nine consecutive seasons (only the great Ken Irvine stands above him).
Vatuvei was the Vodafone Warriors’ top metre gainer with 3435 metres, an average of 149 a game. He made 15 line breaks and 53 tackle breaks in a campaign when he equalled his record for most appearances in a season.
Earlier in the evening Vatuvei was also named the Canterbury of New Zealand Club Person of the Year for his exceptional all-round contribution on and off the field, especially in the community. He has already won the NRL’s Favourite Son Award this year and is a finalist for the NRL's Ken Stephen Medal to be awarded later this month.
There were two double winners for the club’s NYC and New South Wales Cup teams as well. Co-captain and prop Sam Lisone won both the SKYCITY NYC Players’ Player of the Year and the supreme Vodafone NYC Player of the Year while Agnatius Paasi did the double with the SKYCITY NSW Cup Players’ Player of the Year and the Vodafone NSW Cup Player of the Year.
In another feature of the night departing Vodafone Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah and general manager commercial Don Mann were officially farewelled. Scurrah is leaving after coming into the role in late 2005 while Mann has been involved with the club since Eric Watson took over ownership in late 2000.
2015 VODAFONE WARRIORS RED BALL AWARDS
SKYCITY Legacy Award | Simon Mannering
Vodafone People’s Choice Award | Konrad Hurrell
Canterbury of NZ Club Person of the Year | Manu Vatuvei
SKYCITY NYC Players’ Player of the Year | Sam Lisone
SKYCITY NSW Cup Players’ Player of the Year | Agnatius Paasi
SKYCITY NRL Players’ Player of the Year | Manu Vatuvei
DEWALT Play of the Year | Shaun Johnson
TNT NYC Rookie of the Year | Brad Abbey
Vodafone NSW Cup Rookie of the Year Award | Tuimoala Lolohea
Vodafone NRL Rookie of the Year | David Fusitu’a
Vodafone NYC Player of the Year | Sam Lisone
Vodafone NSW Cup Player of the Year | Agnatius Paasi
Vodafone NRL Player of the Year | Simon Mannering
Vodafone Warriors Player of the Year Award winners:
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