Jeremy Smith last night collected the Steve Watene Memorial Medal as the Player of the Year at the 2012 New Zealand Rugby League awards.
Smith, a two-time NRL premiership winner with Melbourne and St George Illawara, this year helped his Cronulla Sharks make the top eight of the NRL, although he missed October's test against Australia.
"It's truly an honour to be here tonight,'' said Smith, who was helped the Kiwis to win the 2008 World Cup and 2010 Four Nations. "I don't get home to New Zealand all that often and it is an honour to be here to see all these people get their awards. I am truly grateful for receiving this award and being the first player to receive the Steve Watene Memorial Medal.''
Watene was a former member of parliament who captained the New Zealand rugby league team in 1936-37.
Warriors centre Ben Henry took out the Kiwi Rookie of the Year award and Roosters fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was named junior player of the year.
2012 New Zealand Rugby League award winners:
Grassroots Club of the Year: Manukau Rugby League Club (Counties Manukau)
Volunteer Recognition Award (Female): Stella Teariki (Wellington) and Rawinia Mana (Counties Manukau)
Volunteer Recognition Award (Male): John Boyd (Akarana)
Match Official of the Year: Shane Rehm (Akarana)
Women's Player of the Year: Honey Hireme (Waikato)
Domestic Player of the Year _
16s: Bunty Afoa (Akarana)
18s: Kouma Samson (Akarana)
Premiers: Suaia Matagi (Akarana)
Junior Player of the Year: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters)
Kiwi Rookie of the Year: Ben Henry (Vodafone Warriors)
Kiwi Player of the Year: Jeremy Smith (Cronulla Sharks)