Rugby league immortal Andrew Johns just loves a giggle.

He's the only bloke in the NRL who is both revered enough and simultaneously delightfully juvenile enough to get away with his cheeky awards announcement at the Rugby League Players' Association Players Champion event on Tuesday night.

The Newcastle legend was given the honour of announcing the first inaugural RLPA Players Champion at a gala event at Sydney's The Star.

It was supposed to be a simple matter of reading out a name from an unopened envelope - but all bets are off whenever Johns becomes involved in anything.


Channel 9 personality Karl Stefanovic segued to Johns to present the award by asking if Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston could win the award for a fourth time after he won it in 2015.

The 42-year-old couldn't help himself but have a bit of fun with some wordplay after opening the winner's envelope and seeing the name written on the paper.

"Well, the 2016 Players Champion for this year is JT from North Queensland," he said with a big cheeky grin.

The group of players and assembled rugby league dignitaries launched into a big round of applause for Thurston before Johns let them in on his little joke.

"It's Jason Taumalolo," he said.

Before being ushered off the stage, Johns said: "I got ya".

Stefanovic didn't appear to be a huge fan of the joke.

After Johns handed him back the mic, Stefanovic said: "You stuffed that one up, didn't you".

Taumalolo said it was the highest honour he has ever been awarded.

"This is right up there as one of the biggest awards you can win, to be voted by your peers is very special," Taumalolo said.

The award capped off an indifferent week for the Kiwis international who will face court next month after being charged with wilful damage by Queensland police after allegedly egging cars.

Taumalolo has been fined $2,500 by the club over the incident.

"Thanks to the RLPA for supporting the players. What they have done for us players behind closed doors is so big for us. It makes us worry more about footy that off-field dramas," Taumalolo said.

Thurston said Taumalolo was a deserved recipient.

"It is the biggest award you can win in rugby league to be voted by your peers as the best in the game," Thurston said.

"He has had an outstanding season I am very proud of him and what he has achieved this year.

South Sydney playmaker Cody Walker won RLPA rookie of the year. Sydney Roosters forward Nat Butcher won the NYC player of the year award. Greg Inglis was named as Australia's representative player of the year, Jesse Bromwich the same honour for New Zealand.

James Graham won the rest of the world representative player of the year. Australia's Samantha Bremner and New Zealand's Georgie Hale were respectively named national women's players of the year.

- with AAP