James Wilson named Southland Stags' player of the year
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