Vodafone Warriors Tuimoala Lolohea and Ata Hingano take award-winning form into the Downer NRL Auckland Nines starting at Eden Park today.
Kiwi international Lolohea (21) is facing his third straight Nines tournament while NYC star Hingano (18) has been picked for the first time.
On Wednesday night Lolohea, who played Test matches for both Tonga and New Zealand last year, won the 2015 Junior Player of the Year Award at the New Zealand Rugby League Awards. After a season when he played all but one of the Vodafone Warriors’ 24 matches, Lolohea won the title from Melbourne’s Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Newcastle’s Danny Levi.
Hingano won the NZRL 18s Player of the Year. After making his NYC debut as a 17-year-old in 2014, he split his 2015 appearances between the Vodafone Warriors’ NYC and New South Wales Cup sides.
Another Vodafone Warrior in line for an award was new signing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who was vying with Jesse Bromwich and Tohu Harris for the NZRL’s top accolade. While Tuivasa-Sheck was the Dally M Fullback of the Year and was also named the world’s top No 1 in the Golden Boot Team of the Year, outstanding prop Bromwich collected the award.
Also recognised on the night was Vodafone Warriors corporate sales manager Gordon Gibbons, who was presented with the NZRL's Distinguished Service Award for his contribution to the game.
Grant Pocklington, who guided the Point Chevalier Pirates to another Fox Memorial title in Auckland last year, was named the Domestic Coach of the Year. He's now an assistant coach of the Vodafone Warriors' New South Wales Cup side, supporting head coach Stacey Jones.
NZRL AWARDS | WINNERS
Female Volunteer of the Year – Leanne Anderson (Southern)
Male Volunteer of the Year – Simon Itula (Wellington)
Grassroots Club of the Year – Glenfield (Akarana)
Domestic Coach of the Year – Grant Pocklington (Akarana)
Match Official of the Year – Adam Burns (Southern)
16s Player of the Year – Josh Uta (Counties Manukau)
18s Player of the Year – Ata Hingano (Vodafone Warriors)
Premier Player of the Year – Raymond Talimalie (Counties Manukau)
Junior Player of the Year – Tuimoala Lolohea (Vodafone Warriors)
Women’s Player of the Year – Teuila Fotu-Moala (Counties Manukau)
Kiwis Rookie of the Year – Jordan Kahu (Brisbane Broncos)
Kiwis Player of the Year – Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm)