After leading his team through the NRL season from hell, NZ Warriors star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has taken out Captain of the Year honours at the annual Dally M Awards in Sydney.
The club also took out the 'people's choice' Provan Summons Medal for sportsmanship, a reward for helping keep the competition alive, when it was threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic that closed down sport around the world.
"When I look back on our season - how crazy it was and the amount of dramas we had - I definitely questioned myself and a leader, whether I was doing the right thing," says Tuivasa-Sheck, accepting his award.
"To win this award, I'm truly grateful and I appreciate it so much."
The fullback probably endured the horror campaign more than most, spending fives months apart from his young family to keep his team on track for the NRL playoffs, an achievement that seemed unlikely, when they started 2-5 and lost coach Stephen Kearney.
Unable to commute across the Tasman, due to coronavirus border restrictions, the Warriors spent the entire season in Australia, eventually rallying under interim coach Todd Payten to finish just outside the top-eight post-season, but winning fans for their courage against the odds.
Tuivasa-Sheck, 27, epitomised that effort, refusing to accept sympathy for the sacrifices he made to lead the team, on and off the park.
Accepting the award, he paid tribute to partner Ashley for her strength, caring for their two young children during his absence.
After the Warriors' playoff hopes ended with defeat to Cronulla Sharks, Ashley reportedly celebrated that Tuivasa-Sheck would finally be home soon.
Tuivasa-Sheck is no stranger to the Dally M Awards, capturing Winger of the Year with Sydney Roosters in 2013, and Fullback of the Year and the supreme Dally M Medal with the Warriors in 2018.
Accepting the Provan Summons Medal, veteran forward Adam Blair says the team was determined to put the hardships behind them and produce football they could be proud of.
"It was tough circumstances with a lot of obstacles to overcome," he says. "But once all the noise was gone, we started to enjoy our season and play some tough footy.
"The toughest part for us was the unknown and leaving our families and children for an unknown time, but when we went into a camp style of footy where we lived in each other's pocket, we started to build a really strong connection with each other.
"We showed that on the field and the things we did as a group."
Warriors forward Tohu Harris was named Second Rower of the Year, along with Penrith Panthers' Viliame Kikau, and Hard-Earned Player of the Year, with Manly's Jake Trbojevic, while Madison Bartlett took out NRLW Try of the Year.
Kiwis and Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris was named Front Rower of the Year, along with Canberra's Josh Papalii.
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