NSW men’s and women’s State of Origin players account for half of the nominees this year for the Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA)’s prestigious ‘Dennis Tutty Award’.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks captain Wade Graham joins Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues stars Simaima Taufa and Hannah Southwell as being in line for the NRL and NRLW awards. The other three nominees are Chelsea Lenarduzzi, Kurt Capewell and Josh Hodgson.
The men’s and women’s competition winners for 2022 will be announced on the Nine Network’s Sunday Footy Show on 18 September.
The award recognises leadership on and off the field, a commitment to players’ rights, along with service and dedication to the game of Rugby League.
Tutty is known as the godfather of professional sport after he challenged the NSWRL transfer rules in late 1968 in a fight with the Balmain club.
The legal battle cost him two years of his playing career – and a chance to win the 1969 premiership with the Tigers – before he finally had a win in the High Court of Australia in December 1971. The bench ruled the NSWRL rules were invalid.
The RLPA each year honours Tutty’s personal sacrifice, which ended up being pivotal in the emergence of the player’s rights movement and helped pave the way for all sporting professionals today.
RLPA’s General Manager of Elite Women and International Relations, Lina Caccamo, said Southwell’s contribution over the past two years had been key to improved standards made to the women’s game and the NRLW.
“She was the first female Rugby League player to join the RLPA Board of Directors and her cutting-edge passion continues to drive change for female athletes as she selflessly advocates on behalf of all players,” Caccamo said.
Taufa has been a long-serving member of the RLPA’s Women’s Player Advisory Group (WPAG).
RLPA Chief Executive Officer Clint Newton added: “Simaima also provides a strong voice for the Pasifika community and is continually pushing for better standards for the next generation of NRLW and women’s Rugby League players.”
Graham has had roles as a club delegate, MPAG (Men’s Player Advisory Group) member and an RLPA Board Director.
“Wade continually steps forward on behalf of the collective, attending crucial meetings with NRL management and providing courageous public comments in the media,” RLPA Player Operations Manager Jamie Buhrer said.
“Wade drives great unity and solidarity at the Cronulla Sharks and within the MPAG and is deeply respected by his fellow players.”