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Tedesco voted The NRL Players’ Champion for 2019

Sydney Roosters’ fullback James Tedesco has been crowned The Players’ Champion by his NRL peers tonight at the Rugby League Players’ Association’s annual awards ceremony at Foxtel on Oxford.

Having previously received the honour in 2017, Tedesco is just the second player to have won the prestigious award more than once – with retired superstar Johnathan Thurston the only other player to have achieved the feat.

The 26-year-old finished ahead of finalists Cameron Munster, Payne Haas, Cameron Smith and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the end of season player poll, capping off an incredible year for the superstar fullback.

Tedesco accepted the honour just over a week after his side’s Telstra Premiership victory and has won a host of other awards including the Dally M Medal, the Brad Fittler Medal and the Wally Lewis Medal.

St George Illawarra star Jess Sergis received the inaugural NRLW Players’ Champion award after a stellar season in the Holden Women’s Premiership.

Sergis edged out teammate Botille Vette-Welsh, Broncos enforcer Rona Peters, and Warriors duo Georgia Hale and Charntay Poko to become the first ever winner of the player-voted Women’s Premiership award.

The Dennis Tutty Award – which recognises a player who has acted in a selfless way throughout the year in advancing the interests of their fellow players – was awarded to Parramatta Eels forward David Gower.

Broncos prop forward Haas, who finished as a finalist for the NRL Players’ Champion, was awarded the Rookie of the Year for 2019.

The NRL-RLPA Wellbeing and Education Awards once again featured prominently, with several players headlined by Russell Packer (Male Academic Player of the Year) and Vanessa Foliaki (Female Academic Player of the Year) receiving recognition for their excellence off-field.

The event also celebrated 40 Years of the RLPA, with key figures from the Association’s history including a number of former players in attendance on the night.

RLPA Chief Executive Ian Prendergast congratulated the award winners and acknowledged the special guests from the Association’s past who joined the celebrations.

“I would like to congratulate all award recipients unveiled tonight as part of The Players’ Champion event,” Mr Prendergast said. “These awards are about celebrating greatness in the eyes of those who take the field each week.

“Congratulations to both James and Jessica on being recognised by their peers as the best from their respective competitions.

“James has no doubt had an incredible season, he has won nearly every award possible this year and is now The Players’ Champion with his peers acknowledging his extraordinary efforts.

“James also won The Players’ Champion honour in 2017 while he was at the Wests Tigers and now joins Johnathan Thurston as the only players to have won it more than once.

“We are proud to this year introduce the NRLW Players’ Champion award, with Jess enjoying a stellar year with the Dragons and a deserving winner of the inaugural honour.

“The event was a great opportunity to not only acknowledge the current champions of our game, but also reflect on our champions of the past as we celebrate 40 years of the RLPA.

“I want to thank everyone who joined us for the event, including some of the pioneers of the Association, and also pay tribute to everyone who has played a role in the RLPA’s history.”

FULL LIST OF WINNERS:

NRL Players’ Champion: James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters)

NRLW Players’ Champion: Jessica Sergis (St George Illawarra Dragons)

The Dennis Tutty Award: David Gower (Parramatta Eels)

Rookie of the Year: Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos)

The Players’ 13 Dream Team: 1. James Tedesco 2. Maika Sivo 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Will Hopoate 5. Daniel Tupou 6. Cameron Munster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Payne Haas 9. Cameron Smith 10. Josh Papalii 11. John Bateman 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Jake Trbojevic

Male Academic Player of the Year: Russell Packer (Wests Tigers)

Female Academic Player of the Year: Vanessa Foliaki (Sydney Roosters)

Indigenous Academic Excellence Award: Josh Addo-Carr (Melbourne Storm)

Pasifika Academic Excellence Awards: Jayson Bukuya (Cronulla Sharks)

Academic Team of the Year: Vanessa Foliaki (Currently completing a Bachelor of Psychology, Massey University), Matthew Lodge (Completed a Diploma of Business and currently completing a Bachelor of Business, Swinburne University), James Tamou (Currently completing a Cert III in Carpentry and Cert III & IV in fitness and completed small Business, EABS), Will Hopoate (Completed a Diploma of Community Services and Cert IV in Community, Granville Tafe), Brett Morris (Currently completing a Cert III in Carpentry and Completed cert iv in small business, Gymea Tafe), Daniel Alvaro   (Currently completing a Cert III in Carpentry, Meadowbank Tafe), Toafofoa Sipley (Completed a Bachelor of Education in High School teaching, University of Auckland), Jamie Buhrer (Currently completing a Bachelor in Sports Business Management, ACPE), Coen Hess (Currently doing Master of Business Administration and Completed a Diploma of Hospitality and Diploma of Business Management, CQU), Chanel Harris-Tavita (Currently completing a Bachelor of Business, Auckland University of Technology), Keegan Hipgrave (Currently completing a Bachelor of Business, QUT) Russell Packer (Currently completing a Masters Business Administration, UNSW) and Robbie Rochow (Currently completing a Bachelor of Engineering, UNSW)

The NRL Players’ Champion Honour Roll:

2019 James Tedesco

2018 Kalyn Ponga

2017 James Tedesco

2016 Jason Taumalolo

2015 Johnathan Thurston

2014 Johnathan Thurston

2013 Johnathan Thurston

2012 Ben Barba

2011 Akuila Uate

2010 Darius Boyd

2009 Jarryd Hayne

2008 Braith Anasta & Petero Civoniceva

2007 Matt Bowen

2006 Ben Kennedy

2005 Johnathan Thurston

2004 Danny Buderus