May 29, 2024

Tupou Vaa’i takes home top honour at Gallagher Chiefs awards

The Gallagher Chiefs on Tuesday celebrated their season with a glamourous occasion for the annual awards ceremony. Players, coaches, staff and sponsors were acknowledged on the night for their contributions to the club and unwavering support over the years.

Taking out the top honour of Coaches Player of the Year was All Black lock Tupou Vaa’i who has been immense for the squad this season.

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan said: “Tupou came into the team as a boy, has grown as a man and has developed an ever-increasing presence in the forwards. When he plays for us, we understand his value. His value is not always appreciated by others outside of the Chiefs region but we know what he can bring to a team and we miss him when he’s not there. He has taken on a lot of leadership and responsibility in his area of expertise, so I’m proud to present him with this award.”

Another stand-out player this year, loose forward Wallace Sititi took out Rookie of the Year, while Counties Manukau winger Peniasi Malimali took home the Personality of the Year award. Playmaker Damian McKenzie once again took out Fans Player of the Year alongside the Players Player of the Year, as voted by his teammates.

Meanwhile, respected leader Bradley Slater earned the Mana Kotiate award for his contributions to the club on and off the field.

A talent coming through the Chiefs Pathways, loose forward Andrew Smith took out the University of Waikato Chiefs U20s Player of the Year award after impressive performances in the U20 Super Rugby tournament and Rugby Championship with the New Zealand U20s team.

The Kotahitanga Award for the staff member who lives the Chiefs values and has made an outstanding contribution to the club went to Chiefs Manawa Programme Manager and Executive Assistant Dana Heta and Head of Performance Therapies Teresa Te Tamaki.

McMillan also thanked the game day innovations and efforts of the Chiefs staff, the staff and players’ families for their sacrifices, and the sponsors for their support.

“This evening is as much about the sponsors as it is about the players. A large portion of our preparation each week is about making our sponsors and fans proud and we thank you for your unwavering support, long may it continue,” said McMillan.

For the first time, the evening was live-streamed to Chiefs season members to ensure they were part of the celebrations too as committed supporters of the team.

Gallagher Chiefs 2024 Award Winners:
Fans Player of the Year: Damian McKenzie
Players’ Player of the Year: Damian McKenzie
Rookie of the Year: Wallace Sititi
Personality of the Year: Peniasi Malimali
Coaches Player of the Year: Tupou Vaa’i
U20s Player of the Year: Andrew Smith
Mana Kotiate: Bradley Slater
Kotahitanga Award: Dana Heta & Teresa Te Tamaki

Tupou Vaa’i takes home top honour at Gallagher Chiefs awards