Kenny-Dowall's year hits another high with major award


Wellington, New Zealand, October 22, 2010 - Recalled Kiwi Shaun Kenny-Dowall's year hit another high point in Wellington yesterday (Thursday) when he collected the premier Player of the Year award at the New Zealand Rugby League's annual awards. Kenny-Dowall (22) had lived with a one-Test Kiwi tag for three years following his debut against France in Paris in 2007. But a positional switch to the centres prompted to a stellar 2010 season as he helped the Sydney Roosters go from wooden spooners in 2009 to beaten NRL grand finalists a year later.

Rated by many as the best centre in the competition this season, Kenny-Dowall was the NRL's equal top try-scorer with Newcastle's Akuila Uate, scoring 21 tries in 28 matches, just ahead of his New Zealand team-mate Manu Vatuvei (20 tries in 19 games) as well as being second best among all players for tackle breaks (170), sixth for most metres (3559), eighth for line breaks (20) and 10th for most runs (359). He was the leading centre in each of those categories. Kenny-Dowall's performances led to an international recall and last Saturday he celebrated his comeback by scoring the first two tries of the match as the Kiwis trounced Toa Samoa 50-6 in last Saturday night's first-ever Test between the two countries. He'll again line up in the centres when the Kiwis begin their Four Nations campaign against England at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday night.

Kenny-Dowall faced stern competition for the award from fellow nominees Vatuvei, who won the Vodafone Warriors' Player of the Year title, Kiwi captain Benji Marshall and South Sydney hooker Issac Luke.

Collecting the other major award at international level was Vodafone Warriors back rower Lewis Brown, who was named the Rookie of the Year. Also used in the centres in his club side's run to the finals, Brown (24) became Kiwi No 762 when he was one of three new players selected in New Zealand's 23-man squad for the Four Nations. He was consistently impressive appearing in 23 of the Vodafone Warriors' 25 matches and last weekend made his debut for the New Zealand Maori in their 18-18 draw against England.

The other nominees for the category were Vodafone Warriors hooker Aaron Heremaia and Newcastle second rower Zeb Taia, who both made their Kiwi debuts in the Anzac Test in May.

Winner of the Junior Player of the Year was Melbourne Storm winger Matt Duffie, who made his NRL debut and went on to appear in 14 first-grade games scoring eight tries.

Another feature was a special recognition reward for former Kiwi captain Nathan Cayless, who ended his 259-game NRL career with Parramatta this year. He finished his 38-Test international career early last year after leading the Kiwis to their historic World Cup triumph in 2008.

Award winners were:

Grassroots Club of the Year: Halswell (Christchurch)

Volunteer Recognition Award (Female): Jenny Nahu (Rotorua)

Volunteer Recognition Award (Male): Frank Gibson (West Coast)

Referee of the Year: Shane Rehm

Women's Player of the Year: Sarina Fiso (Auckland)

Domestic Player of the Year: Saulala Houma (Auckland)

Centenary Committee Award: Duncan Mclean recognition

Junior Player of the Year: Matt Duffie (Melbourne)

International Rookie of the Year: Lewis Brown (Vodafone Warriors)

International Player of the Year: Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters)

Special Recognition Award: Nathan Cayless (Parramatta)

If you want to send the Kiwis a message to wish them well for the big game this weekend, send a fax to 04 498 3763.