Following a massive season with the Melbourne Storm, Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Kiwi #804) burst onto the international rugby league scene with the Kiwis in 2017. His physicality turned heads at the Rugby League World Cup and has earned him a spot as a finalist for both Kiwis Rookie of the Year and Kiwis Player of the Year.
Finalists have been selected in all 12 NZRL Awards categories, with winners to be announced at an Auckland function on February 10.
Kiwis stalwart Simon Mannering (Kiwi #731) joins Asofa-Solomona and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Kiwi #779) as finalists for the top award while Asofa-Solomona will also face-off for the Kiwis Rookie of the Year title.
The Women’s Player of the Year award will be another heavily contested category with hard-hitter Teuila Fotu-Moala, Women’s Rugby League World Cup Player of the Tournament up against Kiwi Ferns hooker Krystal Rota and fullback Apii Nicholls-Pualau. Rota’s 2017 Auckland Player of the Year accolade will see her as a strong contender as well as Nicholls-Pualau’s dominance at the back for the Kiwi Ferns Rugby League World Cup campaign.
A special recognition award will also honour an individual’s service to the women’s game.
The full list of NZRL Awards finalists is:
Pirtek Female Volunteer – Naioma Chase (Dannevirke Rugby League/Mid Central), Sonyia Anania (Glenora Bears/Akarana), Fipe Fa’amoe Ione(He Tauua/Southern), Alana Lockhurst (Cooks Rugby League/Sothern), Sandra Hickey (Physical Disability RL/Akarana), Jasmine Tuli (Linwood Keas/Sothern), Victoria Malone (Marist Saints/Akarana), Karla Matua (Manurewa Marlins/Counties Manukau), Chantez Connor (Otaika Eagles/Northland), Nicole Baker-Havea (Otahuhu Rugby League/Counties Manukau)
Pirtek Male Volunteer – Nathan Robinson (Country Cowboys/Aoraki/Southern), James Waetford (Ellerslie Eagles/Akarana), Will Harris (Wairau Taniwha/Sotuhern), Willy Simon (Hornby Panthers/Southern), Lawrence Erihe (Linton Cobras/Mid Central), Jack Newson (Hornby Panthers/Southern), Riki Shelford (Portland Rugby League/Northland), Jim Doolan (Otara Scorpians/Counties Manukau), Dennis Stewart (Trentham Titans/Wellington)
Grassroots Club – Northcote Tigers (Akarana), Taniwharau (Upper Central), Dannevirke (Mid Central)
Domestic Coach – Rusty Matua (Auckland), Morgan Kutia (Waikato), Rod Ratu (Auckland)
Referee – Jason Wilson (Canterbury), Chris McMillan (Auckland)
Domestic Player 16s – Christian Tuipulotu (Akarana), Caius Fa’atili (Southern), Sione Moala (Counties Manukau),
Domestic Player 18s – Steven Marsters (St George Illawara), Tyler Slade (NZ Warriors),
Seth Tauamiti (Southern), Jonathan Aumua Falelua-Malio (Akarana)
Domestic Player Premier – Aaron Jolley (Waikato/Hamilton City Tigers), Daniel Reuelu-Buchanan (Akarana Falcons/Glenora Bears), Phil Kingi (Akarana Falcons/Glenora Bears)
Junior Player – Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans), Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers), Isaiah Papali’I (NZ Warriors)
Kiwis Rookie – Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm), Danny Levi (Newcastle Knights), Isaac Liu (Sydney Roosters)
Women’s Player – Teuila Fotu-Moala (Otahuhu Leopards/Counties Manukau), Krystal Rota (Manurewa Marlins/Counties Manukau), Apii Nicholls-Pualau (Manurewa Marlins/Counties Manukau)
Kiwis Player – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (NZ Warriors), Simon Mannering (NZ Warriors), Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm)