True Blue Wade Graham has picked up back-to-back Dennis Tutty Awards, making him the first player to win the prestigious RLPA honour twice.
Graham was also named the 2022 winner alongside Sky Blues player, Hannah Southwell. The women’s winner for 2023 is Brisbane Broncos forward Chelsea Lenarduzzi.
RLPA chief executive Clint Newton praised the Cronulla-Sharks skipper for the amount of work he undertook on players’ behalf in the final year of his NRL career.
Graham announced last month he would be retiring at the end of the season.
“Many might have expected Wade to take his foot off the gas for the RLPA in the final year of his playing career, but his commitment towards his fellow players, despite retiring, is just another illustration of his character and selflessness,” Newton said.
“Wade showed that his great determination to achieve the best outcomes for players in 2023 meant more than any possible self-interest.
“He is intelligent and pragmatic but unwavering in his values and stands firm on his beliefs. Because of these traits, it was clear that he was hugely respected by all parties during the CBA negotiations.”
Graham started as a delegate and then a member of the Player Advisory Group before his appointment to the RLPA Board in May 2019.
The RLPA introduced the Dennis Tutty award in 2008 for leadership, service and dedication to Rugby League.
It was Tutty – a former Test player - who 52 years ago took on the NSWRL player transfer system in the High Court citing it was unfair to players.
He won, which paved the way for better player renumeration in a variety of sporting codes, but it came at great personal and financial cost.
He had to sit out two seasons (1969-1970) which meant he missed Balmain’s 1969 premiership.