Redcliffe Dolphins centre Valynce Te Whare has been rewarded for a remarkable debut year in Queensland’s Hostplus Cup, named in the competition’s Team of the Year at the QRL’s annual awards night.
The 22-year-old had never played rugby league until he was scouted by the Dolphins towards the end of last year, formerly plying his trade for Waikato in the New Zealand domestic rugby union competition.
But he’s been a revelation since making his debut in Round 10 of the Hostplus Cup, scoring 12 tries in just 13 games and ending the year with 82 tackle breaks and an average of 150 attacking metres per game.
His natural ability and excellent form have seen him rewarded with a place in Wayne Bennett’s inaugural Dolphins’ NRL squad now that his season is over, following the Dolphins’ grand final loss to Norths Devils.
There were plenty of awards given out at the ceremony in Brisbane, with Burleigh Bears fullback Taine Tuaupiki winning the Petero Civoniceva medal as Hostplus Cup Player of the Year and CQ Capras captain and former Broncos NRLW premiership wMariah Storch taking home the Steph Hancock BMD Premiership Player of the Year award.
It wasn’t the only award the Capras received either after a season that saw them claim the women’s minor premiership before going down in the grand final, with centre Emmanita Paki winning the BMD Premiership Rookie of the Year award.
Tuaupiki capped off an incredible debut campaign in the Hostplus Cup by also taking home the Rookie of the Year award, finishing the year with 14 tries, 22 try assists, 105 tackle breaks and 25 line breaks.
He helped carry Burleigh to the minor premiership with just four losses for the season, before they were beaten by Redcliffe in the semi-finals.
QRL FOOTBALL AWARDS
Petero Civoniceva Medal: Taine Tuaupiki (Burleigh)
Hostplus Cup Rookie of the Year: Taine Tuaupiki (Burleigh)
Steph Hancock BMD Premiership Player of the Year: Mariah Storch (CQ Capras)
BMD Premiership Rookie of the Year: Emmanita Paki (CQ Capras)
Hostplus Cup Coach of the Year: Lionel Harbin (CQ Capras)
Hostplus Cup Leading Pointscorer: Josh Rogers (Burleigh)
Hostplus Cup Leading Tryscorer: Alofiana Khan-Pereira (Burleigh)
Hastings Deering Colts Player of the Year: Jonah Glover (Brisbane Lions)
Mal Meninga Cup Player of the Year: Jye Gray (Souths Logan)
HOSTPLUS CUP TEAM OF THE YEAR
Fullback - Taine Tuaupiki, Burleigh Bears
Winger - Alofiana Khan-Pereira, Burleigh Bears
Centre - Valynce Te Whare, Redcliffe Dolphins
Five-eighth - Josh Rogers, Burleigh Bears
Halfback - Guy Hamilton, Burleigh Bears
Prop - Nick Lui-Toso, Northern Pride
Hooker - Tyson Smoothy, Sunshine Coast Falcons
Second-rower - Nixon Putt, Central Queensland Capras
Lock - Sam Coster, Burleigh Bears
BMD PREMIERSHIP TEAM OF THE YEAR
Fullback - Tamika Upton, Central Queensland Capras
Winger - Lauren Moss, North Queensland Gold Stars
Centre - Emmanita Paki, Central Queensland Capras
Five-eighth - Sarah Field, North Queensland Gold Stars
Halfback - Tahlulah Tillett, North Queensland Gold Stars
Prop - Essay Banu, Wynnum Manly Seagulls
Hooker - Emma Manzelmann, North Queensland Gold Stars
Second-rower - Mariah Storch, Central Queensland Capras
Second-rower - Romy Teitzel, North Queensland Gold Stars
Lock - Destiny Brill, North Queensland Gold Stars