Raecene McGregor proudly shows off the gold. Source / Getty Images.
Ngāti Whātua rugby league player Raecene McGregor has taken home one of the NRL's prestigious awards in this year's NRLW season - the Dally M Player of the Year.
The honour for the Sydney Roosters halfback was extra special considering she was seemingly unwanted by any of the NRLW clubs earlier this year. That turned around after a stellar showing for the Māori All-Stars in February, where the Roosters picked her up - something she says shows the real value of the Māori vs Indigenous All-Stars game.
The 24-year-old halfback was a great addition to the Sydney East club, helping to win the postponed-2021 NRLW Premiership earlier this year, and was undefeated in the 2022 season regular season. For this season alone, she had more line engagements than any other player, led with 10 try assists and was in the top five players for total linebreak assists (five) and kick metres, averaging 193 metres a game.
She also has her sister Page McGregor playing for the St George Illawarra Dragons.
Gold for McGregor
Speaking with teaomāori.news, McGregor says the moment she had her name called out as the winner was crazy, and she was overwhelmed with tautoko and aroha from her whānau, especially from her mother who called out proudly in amongst the crowd at the Dally M Awards.
"It was good to wake up this morning and really soak it in after last night. I'm just really excited and honoured to win that award."
She calls it bittersweet, having gone from an uncertain future in the NRLW to being the top player out of the entire competition, and with Covid postponing the 2021 season to earlier this year, it gave McGregor the chance to recover from injury and come back stronger.
Reflecting back on being part of the Māori All-Stars team earlier in February, McGregor says, "It showed coaches that I was ready to play again, I am back, give me a call."
Named alongside men's Dally M winner, Indigenous Sharks halfback Nicholas Hynes, McGregor was also part of the NRLW Dally M Team of the Year in the halfback position, along with five of her Rooster teammates.
It is uncertain whether McGregor will put her hand up for the RLWC next month in England.