COMMUNITY AWARDS | Vatuvei overlooked
Vodafone Warrior Manu Vatuvei has tonight been denied the chance of completing an exceptional NRL community double.
Earlier this season the club's try-scoring record holder received phenomenal support from fans as he was voted the winner of the NRL Favourite Son Award, the first Vodafone Warrior to achieve the honour.
He was nominated by the Vodafone Warriors for the prestigious Ken Stephen Medal, awarded each year to the NRL player who makes the most outstanding contribution in the community away from the football field.
The 28-year-old Vatuvei's community work has been exceptional this year. He has continued his work as Kidz First Children's Hospital ambassador and was heavily involved in the Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme promoting a home insulation message. Vatuvei also threw his weight behind numerous other community causes.
His contribution saw him named the Canterbury of New Zealand Club Person of the Year at the Vodafone Warriors RED BALL Awards last week (he had won the award previously as well).
In the public voting component for the Ken Stephen Medal, Vatuvei again set the pace attracting massive support. However, there was also a judging element involved in the decision process which ultimately saw the popular Vodafone Warrior bypassed, the award instead going to Canterbury-Bankstown's Trent Hodkinson. It means Ruben Wiki remains the only Vodafone Warrior to win the Ken Stephen Medal (in 2007).
While The Beast missed out on this accolade it couldn't take the gloss off what has been a wonderful season both on and off the field for him. He was again the Vodafone Warriors' top try scorer with 17 in 23 games, was voted the club's SKYCITY Players' Player of the Year and is now in line to regain his place in the Kiwi squad for the 2014 Four Nations.