Highlanders reward consistency at annual Awards Evening
- June 18, 2019
The winners of the various trophies at the Pulse Energy Highlanders Awards evening all had one similarity; consistency of performance.
In a regular season that had its up and downs these were the players that stood out for regularly delivering their best out on the park.
The Pulse Energy Player of the Year was hooker Liam Coltman, having had a standout season on defence and with the ball in hand. Coltman shouldered a heavy workload starting in all but one of the regular season games. He is widely regarded as an industrious player with a big engine, he is also highly respected within the team, picking up the awards for Defender of the Year and the Speight’s Players Player.
Another of the major awards of the evening was for the coveted Highlander Man of the year. This award is an impressive claymore sword and is given to the player within the team that best embodies the values of the club, this year’s recipient was Co-Captain Ben Smith. As the club’s most capped player (152 games) and one of the best players the club has ever produced, the award was a fitting reward for over a decade of service to the Highlanders. Always a favourite of Highlander’s supporters Ben also received the distinction of being selected as the Dunedin City Motors Fan Player of the year.
The Swanndri Forward of the Year was Jackson Hemopo. Whether at six or lock Hemopo made his presence felt with his hard charging runs and big hits in defence. His consistent form throughout the season made him hard to go past as the best forward in 2019.
The Back of the Year was the mercurial Aaron Smith who started the season in good form scoring a crucial try against the Chiefs in round one and then after a short break, due to injury, returned to spark the team again over the latter half of the season. His running and passing game are second to none and he continues to set the bar in regard to halfback play.
Rookie of the year was prop Ayden Johnstone who was involved in all bar one of the round robin games and was part of a well performed front row with Coltman and Tyrel Lomax. In his first year of Super Rugby he certainly made an impression and looks to have a bright future in front of him.
Other winners on the night were Aki Seiuli as the 2 Degrees Community Champ for his promotional work amongst the community and Dillon Hunt for Excellence in Personal Development.