14th December 2022
Off the back of impressive international seasons and Golden Boot accolades, Joseph Manu [Kiwi #815] and Raecene McGregor [Kiwi Fern #140] have both been awarded Player of the Year for 2022.
Breakout performances at debut World Cup campaigns see Dylan Brown and Brianna Clark take home the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year awards, while an outstanding 2022 season sees Ronaldo Mulitalo [Kiwi #824] earn Kiwis Young Player of the Year.
Manu ended the 2022 season solidifying his status as one of the best players in rugby league. He impressed at fullback for the Kiwis, playing out of his usual Dally M centre position, earning MVP of three out of six Kiwis’ internationals for the year. The Tokoroa star ran a world record 401 metres in the Kiwis’ mid-season Test against Tonga and ran more than 300 metres in each of his five World Cup appearances, scoring three tries.
Kiwis’ Head Coach Michael Maguire says, “Joey is a special player and has made his mark as one of the best in the world.
“In a year that’s seen him take home a Dally M, a Golden Boot and now the Player of the Year for his country, he’s well on his way to becoming one of the great Kiwi players.”
Raecene McGregor [Kiwi Fern #140] has earned herself Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year after a spectacular 2022 season. The premier half claimed the 2022 Dally M award and the prestigious Golden Boot to cement her place as one of the best in the world. McGregor led the Kiwi Ferns to a World Cup final and scored three tries with seven try-assists and six line-breaks throughout her international season.
Kiwi Ferns’ Head Coach Ricky Henry says, “Rae is one of those rare players, a leader and a playmaker who’s the best in her position.
“Having her in our campaigns gave the girls a lot of confidence. Her ability to manage a game effectively and make players around her play well are special talents. She’s had a fantastic year and I can’t think of anyone more deserving.”
Dylan Brown [Kiwi #826] has been named the Kiwis Rookie of the Year after an outstanding international season in the Black and White. In June, he debuted for the Kiwis in front of a sold-out Mt Smart Stadium, where he produced two try-assists, 94 metres, and 27 tackles in the 26-6 victory against Tonga. The 22-year-old went on to feature in four matches at the RLWC, scoring his first Test try against Lebanon and dotting down again in a standout individual performance in the valiant semi-final loss to Australia.
Head Coach Michael Maguire says, “Dylan has had an outstanding year full of career milestones, and he’s only just getting started.
“He is an integral member of our Kiwi spine alongside last year’s Player of the Year, Jahrome Hughes. As they spend more time together in the Kiwi jersey, they’re well on their way to becoming one of the strongest pairings in Test football.”
Brianna Clark [Kiwi Fern #164] has taken home Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year after a breakout Rugby League World Cup campaign for the Kiwi Ferns.
Clark was a standout, kicking seven goals across the opening two pool wins against France and Cook Islands despite starting on the bench. She came into the front row for the group-stage classic against Australia and scored a try in the semi-final defeat of England taking the Ferns to the World Cup final.
Head Coach Ricky Henry says, “Bri was instrumental for us; she stood out in every game she played.
“She led from the front, put her body on the line and brought energy and momentum to every play. She’s a special player and we’re lucky to have her in our squad.”
Ronaldo Mulitalo [Kiwi #824] has been awarded Kiwis Junior Player of the Year, an accolade that looks at both NRL and international performance. Mulitalo flourished out wide for a burgeoning Cronulla combination in 2022, producing 30 line-breaks and scoring 17 tries in 24 games (equal-third in the NRL) as the club powered to a top-four finish.
The Ellerslie Eagles junior had a stellar Test debut performance as the Kiwis prevailed 26-6 against Tonga in June. He scored on debut, made two line-breaks and ran for 147 metres. Mulitalo, widely regarded as arguably New Zealand’s No.1 winger then shone on the world cup stage, scoring tries against Ireland and Fiji, before producing a brilliant display in the Kiwis’ gallant semi-final exit, capping off an impressive year for the 22-year-old Kiwi.
Head Coach Michael Maguire says, “We have an exciting group of young Kiwi players and Ronnie is a part of that special group.
He’s a very proud Kiwi, and you could see the passion with which he played when he wore the Black and White jersey. If he keeps on the path he’s going, he can become one of the great wingers of our game.”
New Zealand Rugby League would also like to congratulate Roko Nailolo on taking home the Kiwis Physical Disability Player of the Year.
Roko was sensational at the Physical Disability Rugby League World Cup, scoring a hattrick in 12 minutes against Australia and leading the team to a World Cup final against England. He was an integral playmaker in every game and arguably the best in the competition.
2022 NZRL AWARD WINNERS
Kiwis Player of the Year – Joseph Manu
Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year – Raecene McGregor
Kiwis Physical Disability Player of the Year – Roko Nailolo
Kiwis Rookie of the Year – Dylan Brown
Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year – Brianna Clark
Kiwis Young Player of the Year – Ronaldo Mulitalo