After two years sidelined with knee reconstructions, midfielder TJ Faiane has been honoured as the Blues Most Valuable Player at the annual awards function.
Faiane made an outstanding return to Super Rugby this year, starting in all-but the final match of the season, and playing in all 80 minutes in most games. It follows his excellent summer as captain of Auckland in their winning Mitre-10 Cup campaign.
This leadership has been a key feature of his Investec Super Rugby season where he formed a strong midfield combination with Ma’a Nonu.
Fullback Melani Nanai, who has 64 caps for the Blues since his debut in 2015, will leave the club to continue his career for the Worcester Warriors in English rugby, with the honour of Players’ Player of the Year, presented by BNZ, which was the result of weekly vote for the three best players for every game.
The Community Award, presented by IVECO, is usually presented to the player that has demonstrated the most commitment to the club’s community events and partnerships.
In this case the club has recognised the outstanding community leadership by Sonny Bill Williams in the aftermath of the terror attack in Christchurch. Sonny displayed outstanding leadership, empathy and love for those directly affected by the attacks. His actions not only helped at a time of need for those grieving families but also assisted many New Zealanders to better understand his Muslin faith. It also demonstrated how rugby’s reach can hearten New Zealanders as a whole.
Whether it was his on-field aggression, flowing red locks or his unique brand of humour, Tom Robinson quickly became a firm favourite amid Blues followers, to earn the honour of the Fans’ Player of the Year, presented by KFC.
Tom took full advantage of injuries to others to stake his claim in his first season with the Blues, starting with eye-catching displays in the first 10 games of the season, playing in all-but one match to also earn the honour of Rookie of the Year, presented by nib.
Former Sacred Heart outside back Lemeki Namoa, who plays for Pakuranga United, is the Blues Development Player of the Year, presented by 2degrees for his outstanding displays this year.
Blues accounts staffer Brittany Jackson was awarded with the Mealamu Medal for Club Person of the Year, presented by Barfoot & Thompson. Brittany not only epitomises the values of the club but does an outstanding job in her core role and is always first to take on other duties.
The awards function was held at Eden Park in which the organisation also honoured those players moving on from the club for their service on and off the field.