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Top five picked by their peers

It’s where respect meets rivalry, and the NRLW players have voted Elsie Albert (Dragons), Millie Boyle (Broncos), Evania Pelite (Titans), Emma Tonegato (Dragons), and Botille Vette-Welsh (Eels) as their five Finalists for the 2021 NRLW The Players’ Champion award.

These fives players polled the most votes among their peers, and the final winner of the Rugby League Players Association’s prestigious award will be announced during Channel 9’s coverage of the NRLW Grand Final on Sunday, April 10.

Evania Pelite (2020) and Botille Vette-Welsh (2019) are the only players among the 2021 list who have previously been a Finalist for The Players’s Champion award.

However, none of the current Finalists have previously won The Players’ Champion, meaning a new name will be etched onto the famous trophy when the 2021 winner is announced. 

Previous winners of The Players’ Champion include Hannah Southwell (2020), Jessica Sergis (2019), Simaima Taufa (2018).

Lina Caccamo, the RLPA’s General Manager of Elite Women and International Relations, praised the quality of the five Finalists and the entire NRLW playing group:

“What we have seen from these five players this season has been incredible. The skill, athleticism and commitment they’ve shown is unbelievable,” said Ms Caccamo.

“The overall strength and ability of the playing group has shone through in a year where the season was delayed and two new teams added, yet the entertainment value for fans has gone up.” 

The Players’ Champion is awarded to the most outstanding player each year as voted by peers, and all five of these players would make worthy winners. It’s also pleasing to see a mixture of forwards and backs among the Finalists which shows the quality of skill and strength across the entire NRLW competition right now.”

Clint Newton, Chief Executive Officer of the RLPA, said:

“We congratulate Elsie, Mille, Evania, Emma and Botille on their recognition as Finalists for The Players’ Champion. Each player would be a worthy winner and we can’t wait to see who is announced as The Players’ Champion on Channel 9 next week,” said Mr Newton.

“All five women are clearly incredibly talented, producing first-class performances in arguably the toughest NRLW competition yet. These players have demonstrated significant strength, skill, speed and brilliant technique throughout what has been an outstanding season so far, and only makes you even more excited about what is to come later this year and beyond.”

Along with The Players’ Champion, the RLPA will announce in the lead up to the NRLW Grand Final the Dennis Tutty Award winner, Rookie of the Year, and final 13 players in The Players’ Dream Team for the very first time.

The Dennis Tutty Award will be awarded to an NRLW player who has demonstrated outstanding leadership on and off the field, commitment to their fellow players and to the advancement and protection of their rights, and service and dedication to the game of rugby league.

Just like The Players’ Champion, The Rookie of the Year and The Players’ Dream Team  are player-voted, however they are voted for separately. Each player votes for a single rookie and a single player from each of the fullback, wing, centre, five-eighth, halfback, backrow, prop and hooker positions.