Harris and Walsh take the top prizes at Vodafone Warriors awards

By Te Ao - Māori News

The Vodafone Warriors' 27th annual awards saw back rower Tohu Harris and star rookie Reece Walsh claim some prestigious honours.

Ngāti Kahungunu descendant Tohu Harris was awarded the Simon Mannering Medal for the second consecutive year. The award is the club's highest accolade.

This is despite an ACL knee injuring, ending his season at 15 games this year.

At a function attended by teammates, staff, families and old boys, Harris has become the fourth player to win the title in consecutive years after Steve Price, Simon Mannering, and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

In his previous 13 appearances, Harris had averaged 117 metres and 46 tackles a game; only three players finished the regular season with better average tackles per game numbers than Harris. Across his full 15 games, he still ranked ninth among all players for most average tackles per match.

Prop Addin Fonua-Blake (voted the player's player of the year by his fellow teammates), centre-turned-second rower Euan Aitken and hooker Wayde Egan were also nominees alongside Harris.

Rookie of the Year

Unsurprisingly, the Rookie of the Year award went to Māori-Indigenous fullback Reece Walsh.

The 19-year-old exploded onto the scene when he was grabbed from the Brisbane Broncos to replace the departing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, and debuted at 18 in the annual Anzac Day clash against the Melbourne Storm earlier this year.

He sent more shockwaves in the rugby league world when he was chosen to play for the Queensland Maroons team in what was to be his State of Origin debut. However, an injury subsequently ruled him out from playing.

Walsh finished the season as the club’s top try-scorer with nine in 16 appearances, while he averaged 119 metres a game. He led the club for try assists (11) and line breaks (14) while he was second for most tackle breaks with 53.