SIT Zero Fees Southland co-captain James Wilson has capped an emotional homecoming by being named the Stags player of the year at the end-of-season awards tonight.
After last playing for Southland in 2011, Wilson returned home in 2018 following a storied overseas career which included English premiership glory with the Northampton Saints.
A member of the 2011 Ranfurly Shield-winning Southland team, Wilson said being named the Stags’ top player for 2018 was a massive honour.
“It means a lot to me, having come from Invercargill and seen so many great Stags who have won this trophy. It’s an emotional time for me and I’ve got some family and friends who will be very happy about this.”
Wilson’s experience and professionalism was vital for a young Southland team in 2018 and his impact was recognised when he also picked up the Stag contribution award and NZRPA and Speights Personal Development Award.
Manaaki Selby-Rickit’s impressive season was also recognised with the lanky lock named the Stags’ most improved forward and the Rugby Southland Supporters’ Club’s most promising player.
Fleet-footed winger Isaac Te Tamaki was rewarded for his attacking efforts this season with the Stags rookie of the year award.
The impact of women involved in Southland rugby was also recognised, with Bree Thomas winning both the secondary schoolgirls’ most promising player and player of the year awards.
Kendall Buckingham’s commitment to the Southland women’s sevens team, both in terms of travelling for trainings and fitting her representative duties around playing assignments in Japan, saw her named Southland women’s seven player of the year.
Former Black Fern Casey Robertson was named the Southland-wide coach of the year after taking the Wyndham men’s team to back-to-back division one club titles.
If you are looking for a name to watch for the future, it’s hard to go past Kalani Elder, who made his senior debut for Blues this year at 17 and went on to be named the player of the year for both the Southland under 18 and under 19 teams.
- Under 48kg players of the year: Brayden Bevin and Jak Moreton
- Under 65kg player of the year Preston Evans
- Under 13 player of the year: Lewis Telfer
- Under 14 player of the year: Josh Evans
- Jonty Carran Memorial Trophy for most promising under 14 player: Ngarimu Paraki
- Under 16 player of the year: Harrison Morton
- Under 18 player of the year: Kalani Elder
- Under 19 player of the year (Bruce Robertson Memorial Cup): Kalani Elder
- Most Improved Referee, Southland-wide: Jaydyn Watson
- Southland secondary schoolgirls most promising player: Bree Thomas
- Southland secondary schoolgirls player of the year: Bree Thomas
- Southland Country player of the year: Sheamus McGuigan
- Southland B player of the year: Pasilio Tosi
- PGG Wrightson Division 1 player of the year: Hayden Diack
- Southland women’s sevens player of the year: Kendall Buckingham
- Southland men’s sevens player of the year (Bernie McKone Cup): Hayden Edgely
- Most improved team in the Southland-wide competition (Bill Foster Trophy): South Port Bluff
- Galbraith Shield winner: Kelvin Hotel Marist
- Southland-wide coach of the year (Kennards Hire Trophy): Casey Robertson
- NZRPA and Speights Personal Development Award: James Wilson
- Rugby Southland Supporters’ Club most promising player: Manaaki Selby-Rickit
- Stag contribution award: James Wilson
- McKnight and Brown best dressed award: James Wilson
- Stags rookie of the year: Isaac Te Tamaki
- Stags most improved forward: Manaaki Selby-Rickit
- Stags most improved back: Rory van Vugt
- Stags players’ player: Manaaki Selby-Rickit
- Rugby Southland Supporters’ Club player of the year: Tony Lamborn
- Stags player of the year: James Wilson