You don't care if you're running first. This is about next year. What ...
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Annual awards will be handed out to the Vodafone Warriors? top achievers at Sky City next Thursday night (September 14) after one of the club?s best seasons in the NRL.
Props Steve Price and Ruben Wiki, hooker Nathan Fien, back rowers Awen Guttenbeil and Micheal Luck, standoff Jerome Ropati and fullback Brent Webb are the leading contenders for the Lion Red player of the year accolade.
Wiki won it last year to become the 11th different player of the year in the club?s first 11 seasons in the competition.
The Vodafone young player of the year award, no longer limited strictly to debutants, has a strong field including winger-fullback Patrick Ah Van, centre Simon Mannering, prop Sam Rapira and halfback Grant Rovelli, all of whom have had substantial first-grade experience this year. Rovelli appeared in all 24 matches, Mannering played 17 times, Ah Van 15 and Rapira 10.
Also announced on the night will be the Puma club person of the year award and the Vodafone One Tribe player of the year, which has been decided by tribe members.
In finishing their 2006 NRL campaign against Brisbane last Sunday, the Vodafone Warriors ended 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.
The public are invited to attend the awards dinner. Tickets can be bought through the Vodafone Warriors (Phone: 09 526 8822).
Previous player of the year winners:
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