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Cowboys take home Players’ Champion awards

North Queensland Toyota Cowboys trio Johnathan Thurston, Jason Taumalolo and Michael Morgan have all come home winners from last night's Players' Champion awards in Sydney.

The annual Rugby League Players Association awards night recognises players' achievements on and off the field, and is the only peer-voted awards night on the rugby league calendar.

A trademark of the night is the 'black tie and sneakers' dress code, with Thurston and Taumalolo rocking the red carpet in comfort.

Retiring co-captain Thurston featured heavily in the presentations, being voted as halfback in the Players' 13 Dream Team, before picking up the Indigenous Leadership & Excellence award and being recognised for entering the '300 Club'.

Meanwhile, lock Jason Taumalolo, who received the RLPA Players' Champion award in 2016, edged out finalists from Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea to receive the 2018 Representative Player of the Year award for his dominant performance in Tonga Ma'a's win over Samoa in June.

North Queensland five-eighth Michael Morgan was named in the NRL Academic Team of the Year for his double diploma in Business and Hospitality with Allara Learning.

THE PLAYERS' CHAMPION 2018 AWARD WINNERS

• The Players' Champion: Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights)

• The Players' 13 Dream Team: Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights), Valentine Holmes (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Latrell Mitchell (Sydney Roosters), Esan Marsters (Wests Tigers), Jamayne Isaako (Brisbane Broncos), Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm), Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys), Andrew Fifita (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm), Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers), Tariq Sims (St George Illawarra Dragons), Jake Trbojevic (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)

• Rookie of the Year: Victor Radley (Sydney Roosters)

• Dennis Tutty Award: Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons)

• Representative Player of the Year: Jason Taumalolo (Tonga)

• Elite Women's Player of the Year: Simaima Taufa (Australian Jillaroos)

• The '300 Club': Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys), Simon Mannering (New Zealand Warriors), Sam Thaiday (Brisbane Broncos), John Sutton (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Billy Slater (Melbourne Storm)

• Indigenous Leadership & Excellence: Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys)

• Pasifika Leadership & Excellence: Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons)

• NRL Academic Player of the Year: Dale Copley (Gold Coast Titans)

• Women's Academic Player of the Year: Kody House (Brisbane Broncos)

• NRL Academic Team of the Year: Aiden Tolman (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Isaac Liu (Sydney Roosters), Jason Bukuya (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Dunamis Lui (Canberra Raiders), Simon Mannering (New Zealand Warriors), Michael Morgan (North Queensland Cowboys), David Gower (Parramatta Eels), Korbin Sims (Brisbane Broncos), Ryley Jacks (Melbourne Storm), Cameron Murray (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Euan Aitken (St George Illawarra Dragons), Dale Copley (Gold Coast Titans), Kody House (Brisbane Broncos)