The Rugby League Players’ Association has on Friday launched its annual awards night The Players’ Champion for 2019 – with this year’s event set to celebrate some of the past and present champions of the game.
With 2019 marking the 40th Anniversary of the RLPA, The Players’ Champion awards will not only crown the best NRL player as voted by players, but also celebrate the significant figures who played a role in shaping the game over the past four decades.
The evening will be hosted at the innovative entertainment venue Foxtel on Oxford (formerly the Academy Twin Theatres) on October 14.
Special activations celebrating the history of the Association will be incorporated on the night, including a special preview of an upcoming RLPA and NRL.com content series, The Professionals.
The culmination of the event will be the unveiling The Players’ Champion for 2019 – with the most recent winners of the prestigious award including Kalyn Ponga (2018), James Tedesco (2017) and Jason Taumalolo (2016).
The event will also recognise and celebrate a range of other achievements by RLPA members this year – including the NRLW Player of the Year, The Dennis Tutty Award, Rookie of the Year and the NRL-RLPA Wellbeing and Education Awards.
RLPA chief executive Ian Prendergast said The Players’ Champion has become a highlight of the rugby league calendar in recent years.
“The Players’ Champion is something that our members and many industry stakeholders look forward to each year because of its uniqueness in comparison with other awards nights,” he said.
“This year the event will have an added level of importance as we celebrate 40 years since the RLPA was established in 1979.
“It’s important that we celebrate this significant milestone and honour some of the pioneers of the RLPA – so incorporating this into The Players’ Champion event is the perfect fit.
“The event will not only celebrate our champions of 2019, but also champions of the players’ cause over the past four decades who have played an important role in shaping the game.
“We look forward to bringing together our current members with some of the key people from the RLPA’s history for this special occasion.”
RLPA director Wade Graham said The Players’ Champion is an honour that is held in the highest regard by the players.
“Being voted the best by those who you play against each week is a massive honour to receive,” Graham said. “I know how much this award has meant to the players who have won it previously.
“You look at guys like JT [Johnathan Thurston] who achieved everything in the game and he still considers it the highest individual accolade he received during his career.
“The event itself is a night that the players all really enjoy getting along to and this year should be even more even more special with the 40th anniversary celebrations.”
Fellow RLPA director James Maloney, who will depart the NRL this season to join Super League club Catalans, echoed Graham’s sentiments.
“The Players’ Champion has always been important to the players as it is the opinion of the blokes who take the field each week,” Mr Maloney said. “I’m looking forward to getting amongst it at this year’s event with it being my last year in the NRL.”
A ‘List of Contenders’ for The Players’ Champion award will be revealed over the next week – with four nominees from each NRL club in contention for the main award and the Players’ 13 Dream Team.
The Players’ Champion 2019, Monday, 14 October at Foxtel on Oxford
- The Players’ Champion
- NRLW Player of the Year
- The Dennis Tutty Award
- Rookie of the Year
- The Players’ 13 Dream Team
- NRL-RLPA Wellbeing and Education Awards
- The 300 Club
- Retiring Players Tribute