Jason Nightingale top Kiwi but Barba scoops top prize
St George Illawara flyer and Kiwi international Jason Nightingale (file pic)
St George Illawara flyer Jason Nightingale was named New Zealand representative player of the year, but Ben Barba took out major honours at the annual Rugby League Professionals Association awards night, with the Canterbury fullback named players' player.
Crowned Dally M player of the year last week in an award determined by media judges, Barba was also singled out as the year's dominant player by his peers in Sydney last night. The votes are tallied on a 3-2-1 basis from the opposition team after each game, Barba's standout season making him a clear-cut winner.
Past winners of the award include Jarryd Hayne, Petero Civoniceva, Johnathan Thurston and last year's recipient - Newcastle winger Akuila Uate.
Others honoured on the night included South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds and Penrith winger Josh Mansour, who were joint winners of the players' rookie of the year.
Test five-eighth Thurston won the Australian representative player of the year, while the Dragons dominated the Education and Welfare category, claiming the team award and back-rower Ben Creagh the individual honour.
Retiring Brisbane prop Civoniceva was honoured for reaching the 300-game club, while several past and present State of Origin stars were inducted into the Origin Gold Club, including Hayne, Dale Shearer, Paul Vautin, Andrew Johns and Glenn Lazarus.