Wigan Warriors’ End of Season Awards took place at the DW Stadium on Monday night and we take a look at the winners.
Women’s Player of the Year sponsored by HW Moon Toyota – Gemma Walsh
Gemma Walsh was named Women’s Player of the Year after an outstanding debut campaign with the Warriors. Walsh, 34, led Wigan to their first ever Super League Grand Final win in what was their first competitive season as a team. After representing England in three World Cups earning 15 caps as well as captaining the national side, Walsh made history as she was the first player to captain the Warriors Women’s side. The ex-Featherstone Rovers stand-off was part of an outstanding team that was only put together last September. Walsh has been instrumental on and off the field with a wealth of experience and expertise skill wise which has seen her deservedly take this award. When she received the award, she said: “It’s a massive honour for me and I never thought the opportunity would come! I’m a massive Wigan fan and I’m from Wigan too.”
Under-16s Player of the Year – Umyla Hanley
Umyla Hanley joined Wigan’s Academy from Shevington Sharks. Born in Bury in 2002, Hanley has had an impressive year in the Under-16s after he was selected for the England Youth Squad to face France in a two-match Test series back in July. Hanley was one of five Wigan players named. In April, Hanley led his team to a 46-18 win against Huddersfield as he scored a hat-trick of tries and converted seven goals which saw him finish the game with a personal haul of 26 points.
Under-19s Edwards-Johnson Memorial Trophy – Harry Smith
Harry Smith won the Under-19s Player of the Year after a stand-out season. The scrum half from Widnes signed for Wigan in 2014 and has since gone onto represent England Youth and England Academy. Born in the year 2000, Smith started at Halton Farnworth Hornets and after four years with the Warriors, he has won two Academy Grand Final trophies both in 2017 and 2018. The skipper made 22 starts for Darrell Goulding’s side this year and scored 10 tries and converted 99 goals. These notable stats highlight Harry’s contribution to the success of the Under-19s in 2018 and his ability to lead the team by the front makes him a deserved winner.
Community Player of the Year sponsored by Shock Doctor – Sam Powell
Sam Powell receives this award for his hard work and commitment to the community. The halfback has carried out charity work and has been involved in a wide range of activities across Wigan and further afield. Sam set up a fishing competition during the season to raise money for Wigan and Leigh Hospice. His girlfriend’s auntie became terminally ill and Sam wanted to combine his love of fishing and rugby together by creating an event at Fir Tree Nursery. Fellow teammates George Williams and Sean O’Loughlin attended and showed their support to Sam as many people got involved and supported the cause. Powell said: “All the money we raised, the Wigan and Leigh Hospice were happy with it so it was great.”
Young Player of the Year sponsored by Evergreen Accountants - Gabe Hamlin
Gabe Hamlin picked up the Young Player of the Year award after a promising debut year in the Cherry and White jersey. The prop joined from South Sydney Rabbitohs ahead of the 2018 season and made his debut against Hull KR in April. The highly rated forward was recommended to Wigan by Michael Maguire and Pat Richards and has gone onto exceed those expectations. With his industrious approach and powerful play, Hamlin always has an eye for the try line. The Hammer, as he is affectionately known, has become a firm favourite with supporters. On receiving the award, he said: “I appreciate Shaun (Wane) for giving me the chance. I’ve been enjoying it and all the boys have been great and I’ve never felt as home as I have here.”
Player of the Year sponsored by Steve Woods Ltd – John Bateman
John Bateman is the Player of the Year. Batty, as he is also known, has been exceptional all year in what is his final season with the Club. John is set to join Canberra Raiders next year with teammate Ryan Sutton but his energy, passion and resolve has endeared the former Bradford Bull to the Wigan faithful. A Man of Steel nominee, alongside St Helens’ James Roby and Ben Barba, Bateman’s end of season form was one of the main driving forces behind the Warriors’ push for their fifth Betfred Super League title.
Player’s Player of the Year sponsored by Wigan Rugby Blog – John Bateman
The most prestigious award of the night, as voted by his peers went to Bateman. The England international’s inspirational form either as a second row or a make shift centre won the approval of his teammates, as his effervescent personality has always been a favourite on and off the field. Bateman was also named in the 2018 Super League Dream Team alongside his skipper Sean O’Loughlin. He said: “I love playing rugby with these set of lads and I always try to do my best. This Club has given me the opportunity and I can’t thank them enough.”
Try of the Year sponsored by Peter Dickinson Architects – Oliver Gildart
Oliver Gildart was voted by the guests at the Awards Dinner for scoring the Try of the Year. His amazing effort against St Helens in August capped off a wonderful win to delay their League Leaders Shield celebrations. Gildart’s unbelievable show of pace down the left wing allowed him to out-step Ben Barba and cross over in front of the travelling Cherry and White army.
Tackle of the Year sponsored by MA Brickworks – Tommy Leuluai
Tommy Leuluai takes this award after a sublime tackle on Fouad Yaha of the Catalans Dragons at the Stade Gilbert Brutus in August. Leuluai was influential both in defence and attack in the 6-35 victory. His perfect technique of going above his weight to pick the winger up and ground him to the turf in a one-on-one was exceptional and that’s why he takes this accolade.
Peter Higginbottom Recognition Award sponsored by Cheshire Wealth Partnership – Vicky Cowpland
Vicky Cowpland is rewarded for her 17-year commitment to the Club. Vicky runs the successful Lotto programme which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to support the Club’s youth development programme. Her dedication to the Club, going above and beyond the call of duty – offering to operate scoreboard at Academy fixtures at Orrell and running the café for the Women’s fixtures at Robin Park is highly recognised.
Lifetime members of the Club - Shaun Wane and Mark Bitcon
The night ended with Shaun Wane and Mark Bitcon being inducted into Wigan Warriors’ lifetime members Club. ‘Waney’ and ‘Bitters’ as they are also known, have been commended for their passion and commitment to the Club after eight successful years. Speaking about Bitcon, Wane said: “I rate him as the best in the Performance Department. Rads (Kris Radlinksi) has made me a better person,” he added. Wane was also given the 2018 Chairman’s Award by Ian Lenagan.