In a reflection of the 2021 Warriors’ wretched run with injuries, extreme lack of continuity throughout the season and absence of genuinely consistent individual performers, Jazz Tevaga is the surprise winner of the TWL Player of the Year award.
Like the now-defunct Rugby League Week POTY award (1970-2016), the gong is based purely on our weekly player ratings, giving each Warrior a mark out of 10 after every game. To counteract the potential impact of injuries and so forth, each player’s three worst scores are deducted from their season total.
But Tevaga was the only player to miss less than three games this year (he appeared in 22 of the Warriors’ 24 matches) and was consequently the only player to have any points deducted from his total. Nevertheless, the utility-forward landed in top spot with plenty to spare – second-placed Bunty Afoa (21 games) was 11.5 points behind Tevaga, with Wayde Egan (20 games) a further 7.5 points back.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (17 games) and Leeson Ah Mau (18 games), who both elected to return to Auckland with six rounds of the season remaining, rounded out the top five – only just in front of wing/centre surprise packet Marcelo Montoya (18 games) and rookie sensation Reece Walsh (16 games). Tuivasa-Sheck was cantering towards his third TWL Player of the Year win in the four seasons it has run until he opted to pull up stumps on his NRL career early.
Tevaga managed to top the standings despite failing to register an ‘8’ rating all year (he scored 7.5 on six occasions). Walsh (six), Tuivasa-Sheck and Addin Fonua-Blake (five each) registered the most weekly scores of 8 or higher. RTS scored an unprecedented 9.5 for his superhuman effort in the Round 3 comeback against Canberra and a 9 after the gutsy Round 6 victory over St George Illawarra. Sean O’Sullivan (Round 3 v Canberra), Reece Walsh (Round 11 v Wests Tigers) and Josh Curran (Round 22 v Canterbury) were the only other players to score a 9 this season.
The below leaderboard reflects the difficult job the club now has in naming an official Player of the Year. The Warriors’ mainstays had average to below-average seasons, while the team’s more impressive performers weren’t on the field for major chunks of the campaign.
TWL 2021 WARRIORS PLAYER OF THE YEAR FINAL LEADERBOARD
138 – Jazz Tevaga
127.5 – Bunty Afoa
120.5 – Wayde Egan
117.5 – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
116.5 – Leeson Ah Mau
116 – Marcelo Montoya
115.5 – Reece Walsh
113.5 – Kodi Nikorima
105.5 – Addin Fonua-Blake
105 – Eliesa Katoa
The average ratings – in this season more than ever – perhaps gives a better reflection of who the Warriors’ top players in 2021 were.
Despite some forgettable late-season displays, Walsh finished with comfortably the best per-game average (7.22). Fonua-Blake, who was restricted to just 15 appearances, was the only other player to average over 7.
Tohu Harris, the 2020 winner who was cut down by injury after playing 15 games, and Tuivasa-Sheck weren’t far behind and the controversial Matt Lodge rounded out the top five. Tevaga and big improvers Curran and Montoya featured in the top 10.
TWL 2021 WARRIORS PLAYER RATINGS – HIGHEST AVERAGES (min 5 games)
7.22 – Reece Walsh
7.03 – Addin Fonua-Blake
6.93 – Tohu Harris
6.91 – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
6.75 – Matt Lodge
6.57 – Josh Curran
6.50 – Jazz Tevaga
6.47 – Leeson Ah Mau
6.44 – Marcelo Montoya
6.38 – Bunty Afoa
Most fascinating – and telling – is the roll call of lowest average scores. It won’t surprise many observers that hapless wing rookie Edward Kosi and lumbering disaster Kane Evans had the two lowest per-game rating, both well under 5.
But the list highlights the alarming decline of some of the Warriors’ better 2020 performers: Jack Murchie, Kodi Nikorima, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Eliesa Katoa and Adam Pompey all featured in the bottom-10, as did former favourite and mid-season discard Ken Maumalo (third in 2018 and second in 2019 in the TWL POTY stakes). Underwhelming recruits Bayley Sironen and Chad Townsend were the others to land on the list.
TWL 2021 WARRIORS PLAYER RATINGS – LOWEST AVERAGES (min 5 games)
4.10 – Edward Kosi
4.79 – Kane Evans
5.25 – Jack Murchie
5.40 – Kodi Nikorima
5.53 – Bayley Sironen
5.69 – Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
5.73 – Ken Maumalo
5.83 – Eliesa Katoa
5.84 – Adam Pompey
5.90 – Chad Townsend
TWL PLAYER OF THE YEAR HISTORY
2018: 1st – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (169.5); 2nd – Issac Luke (162.5); 3rd – Ken Maumalo & David Fusitu’a (151.5)
Best average: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (7.61)
Worst average: Anthony Gelling (4.92)
2019: 1st – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (166.5); 2nd – Ken Maumalo (155); 3rd – Peta Hiku (140.5)
Best average: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (7.78)
Worst average: Blake Ayshford (5.08)
2020: 1st – Tohu Harris (140); 2nd – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (133.5); 3rd – Kodi Nikorima (121)
Best average: Tohu Harris (7.55)
Worst average: Ken Maumalo (5.75)