Stars of the NSWRL have been honoured at the annual Rugby League Players' Association Awards, held at The Star on Tuesday, 13 September.
A day after The Brad Fittler Medal Awards, the NSWRL's own night of nights, the RLPA Awards set out to find Rugby League's best players as voted by their peers. While North Queensland Cowboys and Kiwi international Jason Taumololo took out the grand prize of the 2016 Players' Champion, the NSWRL was also proud to see several of its own recognised for their achievements this season.
Samantha Bremner, who played fullback in the NSW Women's historic victory over Queensland earlier this year, was named Australian Representative Women's Player Of The Year having also played for the Jillaroos in the Test against the Kiwi Ferns. Her recognition follows the announcement of teammate Kezie Apps as the NSW Women's State Representative Player Of The Year at the Brad Fittler Medal Awards.
The recognition didn't stop there, with NSWRL employee Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck also honoured by being named in the NYC Academic Team Of The Year. Tuivasa-Sheck, who has played for the Sydney Roosters' Holden Cup team in 2015 and 2016, has completed a Filmmaking Intensive and Graphic Design course and has been working with the NSWRL throughout the 2016 season. He will join the Sydney Roosters on a full-time NRL contract next season.
Cody Walker, who is eligible for NSW selection, was named the RLPA's Rookie Of The Year following a breakout season for the Rabbitohs, while NSW Under-20s second-rower Nat Butcher is the NYC Player Of The Year after performing strongly for the Roosters. Both of these players bode well for the NSWRL's future.
The awards kept coming for 2016 Brad Fittler Medalist Josh Jackson, too, who was named captain of the NRL Academic Team Of The Year a night after being named the best from this year's Origin series. The Bulldogs and VB Blues second-rower has proved that he is as just as hard-working off the field as he is on it, currently completing a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Newcastle.
Finally, NSW True Blue Benny Elias was named an Origin great at the annual awards. Having played 19 games for the state and six Tests for Australia, Elias was deservedly recognised alongside Queenslanders Matt Sing and Gary Belcher as a State of Origin legend.