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Palavi best of the best for Junior Warriors

John Palavi, an elite achiever on and off the field, was named the Vodafone NYC Player of the Year at the Vodafone Junior Warriors' annual awards dinner at the SKYCITY Convention Centre last night (Wednesday).
Palavi best of the best for Junior Warriors
by NRL

John Palavi, an elite achiever on and off the field, was named the Vodafone NYC Player of the Year at the Vodafone Junior Warriors' annual awards dinner at the SKYCITY Convention Centre last night (Wednesday).

Palavi, who turned 19 only recently, is already in his third season in the NYC and is set to achieve the rare distinction of having a four-year career in the competition when he again plays for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in 2012.

A multiple award winner at St Paul's College last year (including school dux), back rower Palavi beat a high-quality line-up of nominees to be named the player of the year and winner of the Sonny Fai Memorial Medal.

The others in contention were captain Ben Henry, outstanding centre Konrad Hurrell, giant back rower Samiuela Lousi and try-scoring specialist Omar Slaimankhel. Hurrell and Slaimankhel were both named in the Toyota Cup Team of the Year, as was standoff Carlos Tuimavave.

There was widespread surprise that the Vodafone Junior Warriors failed to have one of their forwards included despite the team running away with the NYC minor premiership; Palavi and Lousi seemed to have strong cases for selection.

While Hurrell and Slaimankhel have excelled this year, it was Palavi who won favour tonight after an exceptional year. His all-round contribution was critical to the Vodafone Junior Warriors following up their 2010 premiership success by performing so well throughout the 2011 regular season. He has scored 10 tries ? the most by any of the team's forwards ? in 22 appearances this season and has also been one of the side's best defensive players.

Palavi has been sidelined with injury recently but returns for Vodafone Junior Warriors' preliminary final against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in Melbourne on Saturday night. Victory would give the club a second straight NYC grand final appearance.

The Vodafone Player of the Year accolade isn't his only major success. Just last week Palavi, a pre-med and health science student, was honoured as the NYC Education and Welfare Player of the Year at the annual awards dinner staged by the Rugby League Professionals' Association (RLPA).

Previous Vodafone Junior Warriors Player of the Year winners have been Kevin Locke (2008), Elijah Taylor (2009) and Nafe Seluini (2010).

There was also plenty of collective talent in the list of nominees for the TNT NYC Young Player of the Year. Still with at least another year of NYC football ahead of them, the candidates were prop Siulongua Fotofili, hooker Siliva Havili, utility Eko Malu, halfback Jordan Meads and utility Siua Taukeiaho. The award went to Havili, who despite being eligible for two more seasons in the competition, has appeared in each of the team's 25 matches so far this year.

Hard-working prop Donald Tony, younger brother of former Kiwi and Vodafone Warrior Motu Tony, was named the DeWalt NYC Club Person of the Year. He faced competition for the honour from winger Adam Henry, Ben Henry, Hurrell, Lousi and Taukeiaho.
Earlier in the evening the club acknowledged players who will be leaving after turning 20 this year and no longer being eligible for the NYC. Among them were former King's College pupil DJ Collier, who is the competition's highest points-scorer this year with 280 points so far. Others leaving who have made NYC appearances are Eddie Aki, Sheldon Brown, Henry Chan-Ting, Sosaia Feki, Simon Gibson, Adam Henry, Anthony Lama, George Maka, Sirovai Makatoa, Agnatius Paasi, Stephen Shennan, Lance Su'a-Poe and James Te Pou.

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