RLPA launches Players' Champion

The Rugby League Players Association has launched its new annual awards night, the Players' Champion, to be held on Tuesday 13 September. 

The Players' Champion will celebrate the world's best rugby league player, as voted by the players of the NRL. 

The awards night, to be hosted by Channel 9's Karl Stefanovic, will also recognise the performances of players, on and off-field, across all areas of the game. 

For the first time, a number of the awards will be presented on the 'black carpet' in front of fans, who are invited to attend the event and meet their favourite players in the fan zone, while being entertained by internationally-renowned DJs, the Stafford Brothers. 

"We wanted to reimagine our awards ceremony and elevate the event in a way that better reflects the esteem in which players hold these awards," RLPA CEO, Ian Prendergast, said. 

"The Players' Champion is nominated from the players' votes from each game throughout the season, making it a true peer-voted award."

Four-time Players' Champion and North Queensland Toyota Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston said: "In my eyes, the Players' Champion is the highest accolade a player can get – it's such an honour to be voted by your peers as the best in the game." 

The NRL's Wellbeing and Education awards will also form part of the evening, with academic, Indigenous, Pasifika, wellbeing and education awards presented to players who have excelled this year and been positive role models within their local communities.

RLPA awards:

• Players' Champion
• Rookie of the Year
• Dennis Tutty Award
• Australian Representative Player
• New Zealand Representative Player
• Rest of the World Representative Player
• Australian Elite Women's Player of the Year
• New Zealand Elite Women's Player of the Year
• NYC Player of the Year
• Origin Greats
• Academic Indigenous Player of the Year
• Academic Pasifika Player of the Year
• NRL and NYC Academic Team of the Year
• RLPA NRL Wellbeing & Education Club of the Year