Kiwis front-rower Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Kiwi Ferns wing Honey Hireme took out the top gongs at the 2018 New Zealand Rugby League Annual Awards tonight.
Waerea-Hargreaves capped a stellar season by being named the Kiwis Player of the Year, beating out captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and second-rower Kevin Proctor to claim the award, after having tasted premiership success for the second time with his NRL side the Sydney Roosters.
The 29-year-old led from the front for the New Zealand national side, in the mid-season Denver test against England, the impressive 26-24 win over Australia in Auckland, and throughout the end of year two-one series loss to England.
Kiwis coach Michael Maguire paid tribute to Waerea-Hargreaves' leadership and effort in helping the side reclaim some pride and respect after the disappointment of last year's failed World Cup campaign.
"As a senior player within the Kiwis camp, Jared put a lot of time into discussing the growth of the Kiwi team," said Maguire.
"He has immense passion towards where he wants to see the black and white jersey and this is a real quality of his.
"Off the back of his brilliant season in club land, he was in a good position to play his best footy for the Kiwis and that's exactly what he did. His experience has been invaluable in mentoring younger players to step up into international rugby league."
Hireme took out the Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year for the second time after winning the award back in 2012, having co-captained the team together with veteran forward Laura Mariu in their end of year test against the Jillaroos in Auckland in October.
The 37-year-old dual international was also one of the star performers for the St George Illawarra Dragons in the inaugural NRL Women's Premiership, an experience she says benefited her game.
"The addition of this year's NRL competition was great for the women's game," said Hireme.
"The fact that we could all come together in Kiwi Ferns camp following four weeks of competing in the elite space, was hugely beneficial when it came to pulling on the black and white jersey against the Jillaroos.
"The more we can play at the top level, the better our game gets. I'm grateful for receiving this award but would also like to recognise the efforts of the other finalists (Kimiora Nati and Aieshaleigh Smalley) and our Kiwi Ferns teammates, my family for their undying support, management and coaching staff."
Warriors NRL wing Ken Maumalo's impressive development this season was also recognised as he won the Kiwis Rookie of the Year award, ahead of gun Roosters centre Joseph Manu, and classy Broncos finisher Jamayne Isaako.
The 24-year-old made his test debut in June at Mile High Stadium and also played in the four end of year matches, scoring four tries.
"Both Ken and Jared are two players that are hungry for the Kiwis jersey to reach new heights and that's pleasing," said Maguire.
"It has been really enjoyable coaching Ken, the more he plays, the more he grows so I look forward to seeing what he does next year."
Maumalo's Warriors teammate Isaiah Papali'i claimed the Junior Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, having been named Warriors NRL Rookie of the Year and receiving his Kiwis debut in England after captaining the Junior Kiwis against the Junior Kangaroos at Mt Smart Stadium a month earlier.
Fellow test newcomer Onjeurlina Leiataua was also rewarded for her break-out season with the Warriors women's team, and her strong performance in New Zealand's narrow loss against the Jillaroos helped her sweep the Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year award.
New Zealand Rugby League Award Winners:
Female Volunteer – Karen Gibbons Karen Gibbons (Akarana, Auckland)
Male Volunteer – Lawrence Erihe (Mid Central, Manawatu)
Grassroots Club of the Year – South Pacific Raiders (Southern, Otago)
Domestic Coach of the Year – Keith Hanley (Akarana, Auckland)
Match Official of the Year – Paki Parkinson (Upper Central, Bay of Plenty)
NZ 16s Player of the Year – Sione Moala (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
NZ 18s Player of the Year – Tyler Slade (NZ Warriors)
Domestic Premier Player of the Year – Francis Leger (Akarana, Auckland)
Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year – Onjeurlina Leiataua (NZ Warriors)
Kiwis Rookie of the Year – Ken Maumalo (NZ Warriors)
Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year – Honey Hireme (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Kiwis Player of the Year – Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters)