Vodafone Warriors captain Steve Price edged fullback Brent Webb to become the second prop in successive seasons to win the club?s most coveted annual award last night.
After counting weekly votes cast by the players plus head coach Ivan Cleary and his assistant John Ackland, the 32-year-old Price emerged the winner of the Lion Red Player of the Year award.
He narrowly headed Webb (25), who takes up an English Super League contract with Leeds next year after 103 appearances for the Vodafone Warriors since his debut in 2002.
Price?s success completed a quinella for the Vodafone Warriors? captain and vice-captain, fellow front rower Wiki earning the accolade last year in his first season with the club. Price is also the first captain in the club?s history to win the award.
State of Origin commitments with Queensland forced him to miss three of his team?s matches this year but despite that he was the top metre gainer among all props in the NRL?s regular season with 3255 metres in 21 matches. The only other prop in the top 10 was Brisbane?s Petero Civoniceva (3069 metres).
The feat ranked Price fourth-best of all players with only three fullbacks ahead of him ? Clinton Schifcofske (Canberra), Rhys Wesser (Penrith) and Luke Patten (Bulldogs).
The veteran of 259 first-grade matches was also ranked sixth-equal overall for the most hit-ups (361) and again proved to be a convincing king of charge downs. He becomes the fourth prop in the club?s first 12 seasons to win the premier award after Joe Vagana (1998), Jerry Seuseu (2001) and Wiki.
The club?s Vodafone Young Player of the Year award was won by halfback Grant Rovelli from centre Simon Mannering (20), winger-fullback Patrick Ah Van (18) and prop Sam Rapira (19). Rovelli, Ah Van and Rapira all made their first-grade debuts while Mannering made 17 appearances after starting his NRL career with seven matches in 2005. Rovelli, a finalist for the prestigious Dally M Rookie of the Year award in Sydney last week, distinguished himself as one of only two players to appear in all 24 of the club?s matches.
Making his debut against Melbourne, Rovelli, who turned 23 on September 3, was primarily used as an interchange hooker in the first eight rounds of the season but became the starting halfback in the ninth match against St George Illawarra. He was on the field every minute from that match on.
But despite playing only 16 games in the vital playmaking role, Rovelli still ranked fourth for most try assists with 18, ahead of the likes of Cooper Cronk (Melbourne), Trent Barrett (St George Illawarra), Jason Smith (Canberra), Scott Prince (Wests Tigers), Brett Kimmorley (Cronulla) and Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland). During the season his contract was also extended to the end of 2009 with an option for 2010.
Micheal Luck, like Rovelli a Vodafone Warriors newcomer, was named Puma Club Person of the Year to mark his outstanding contribution to the club?s cause both on the field and off it.
Luck (24) came to the Vodafone Warriors after 76 appearances, mainly off the bench, for North Queensland. He immediately earned respect and admiration for his wholehearted attitude in everything he did, going on to play all 24 matches and making his 100th first-grade appearance in the club?s final match of the year against Brisbane. He also excelled with his enthusiastic involvement in a wide range of community appearances. Webb was named the Vodafone One Tribe Player of the Year as voted by members of the Vodafone One Tribe supporters? club.
The Vodafone Warriors ended their 2006 campaign with an even 12 wins and 12 losses from their 24 games, the tally of 12 wins bettered only three times in the club?s history (2002, 2003 and 1995).
There were also several other impressive statistical achievements. In scoring 552 points, the Vodafone Warriors were the fourth-best attacking team in the competition behind only the Bulldogs, Newcastle and Melbourne and they had the third-best defensive effort in conceding only 463 points.
The 552 points scored was topped only twice previously in the regular season by the Warriors (2002 and 2003) while the defensive performance was also among the best, equating to an average of only 19 points conceded a game. That has been bettered only once (2002). The total of 97 tries scored was one of the club?s best as well.
The 2006 Vodafone Warriors also achieved a rare feat in the club?s history by putting together two four-match winning streaks, the first instances of more than two wins on end since 2003. They also had an instance of back-to-back wins early in the year against Wests Tigers and Newcastle.
Individually centre Tony Martin was the season?s top points-scorer with 160 in 20 games from six tries and 68 goals. Despite missing the last four matches through injury, his tally is the third best behind only Ivan Cleary?s 173 in 22 matches in 2001 and 242 in 26 games in 2002.
The top try-scorer was Brent Webb with 11. A total of 25 players were used during the season, Rovelli and Luck appearing in all 24 games while Guttenbeil, Louis Anderson and Evarn Tuimavave missed only one match and Ropati, Webb and Wiki missed two.
The club?s player of the year winners have been:
1995 Tea Ropati 1996 Stephen Kearney 1997 Stacey Jones 1998 Joe Vagana 1999 Jason Death 2000 Robert Mears 2001 Jerry Seuseu 2002 Ali Lauitiiti 2003 Francis Meli 2004 Wairangi Koopu 2005 Ruben Wiki 2006 Steve Price