Fiji and Glasgow Warriors lock Leone Nakarawa has been paid a double compliment by his peers – winning the Pacific Island Players Association (PIPA) 2015 Fijian Players' Player of the Year Award and the overall Pacific Island Players' Player of the Year Award.
Nakarawa was presented the award by Samoa half-back Kahn Fotuali’I following the recent Champions Cup clash between Glasgow Warriors and Northampton Saints.
During the 2015 Rugby World Cup players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga voted for their Players' Player of the Year from their respective nations as well as their overall selection for the Pacific Island Player’s Player of the Year award.
The players selected Nakarawa as the stand-out Fijian player, Samoan midfielder Paul Perez was awarded the Samoan Player of the Year award, and Tongan winger Telusa Veainu as the Players' Tongan Player of the Year.
The overall award caps off a standout year for the 27-year-old Nakarawa who produced some scintillating performances for the Flying Fijians during a busy 2015.
The experienced lock played in all 10 of the Fijians test matches during the year, scoring five tries. His impact at the Rugby World Cup was significant and was considered by many commentators to be one of the players of the tournament.
Perez who won the Samoan Players’ Player of the Year award was the mainstay in the Samoan backline this year, playing in eight games and scoring three tries, and 24-year-old winger Veainu had a break-through international year playing for his nation in all eight of their test matches. His ability to spark their attack was a major standout during the World Cup.
Tongan loose forward Hale T Pole paid tribute to the award winners: “There are few greater honours than to receive recognition from your peers for the hard work that goes into consistently performing on the international stage, on behalf of all the Pacific Island Players we congratulate Leone, Telusa, and Paul for their outstanding contribution to pacific island rugby during 2015.”
PIPA board member Seilala Mapusua congratulated the three players on their achievement: "There was a lot of talent on display this year in the Pacific Island teams and this is an awesome acknowledgment to the players from their peers.”
2015 Pacific Island Players’ Player of the Year Award Winners
Fijian Players Player of the Year – Leone Nakarawa
Tongan Players Player of the Year – Telusa Veainu
Samoan Players Player of the Year – Paul Perez
Pacific Island Players Player of the Year – Leone Nakarawa