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Double for Tigers at players' awards

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Leicester Tigers scored a double at the RPA Computacenter Rugby Players' Awards, scooping the Computacenter Players' Player of the Year Award and Norman Broadbent Young Player of the Year.

In the week of their Aviva Premiership Final against Saracens, RPA members voted Thomas Waldrom the Computacenter Players’ Player of the Year and team-mate Manu Tuilagi the Norman Broadbent Young Player of the Year.

It is the second time that Tigers have taken both awards, following in the footsteps of Martin Corry and Harry Ellis in 2005.

Waldrom, who joined Tigers from Canterbury Crusaders last summer, said: “It’s a huge honour to have won the Computacenter Players’ Player of the Year and it has capped a great first season for me in the Aviva Premiership.

“I know it’s always said, but being voted for by your fellow players really is a big deal. There’s no greater compliment and I’d like to thank the players who voted for me. It was a total shock when I found out because there are so many fantastic players who could’ve won it. I was happy just to make the nominees list.

“I’d like to thank the whole team at the Tigers who’ve been tremendous since I arrived. I’d particularly like to thank Craig Newby and Scott Hamilton who have shown me the ropes and helped me to settle in quickly.

“It’s amazing to be seen in the same league as a player like Nick Evans who was also on the shortlist. I personally voted for Tom Wood. He puts in a tremendous amount of work and I think he’s had a wonderful season.

“When I arrived here my expectations were to play a few games here and there, but due to a few injuries I got to play a few games and was able to build on that.”

With the Aviva Premiership Final just days away, Waldrom was unable to attend the awards dinner in London, but added: “I know it’s a big night and you always want to be part of those big occasions, but we’ve got a huge game this weekend so we’ve all got to be tucked up in bed by 10pm and Cockers will be putting us through our paces this week!”

The Norman Broadbent Young Player of the Year Award was awarded to Manu Tuilagi who also picked up the Young Player trophy at the Aviva Premiership Awards this month.

He pooled more than 60 per cent of the player votes, finishing ahead of Northampton Saints’ Tom Wood and Saracens’ Owen Farrell, who his side will face on Saturday in the Aviva Premiership Final.

Tuilagi said: “I’d like to thank all the players who have voted for me. It is a big honour and I am humbled to win this award.

“It is a big disappointment that the season won’t finish in the way it started for me and that I won’t be playing in the Aviva Premiership Final this weekend.

“I’m sorry about what happened in the semi-final and I will do my best to learn from my mistake and come back a better player. I just want to say good luck to my team-mates this weekend, thanks to the coaches for giving me the opportunity this season and thanks again to all the players who voted for me.”

Damian Hopley, chief executive of the RPA, said: “Our congratulations go to Thomas and Manu for delivering a Leicester Tigers’ clean-sweep on the awards voted for by the players themselves. The 2011 RPA Computacenter Awards has been another tremendous success, with over 1, 000 people joining some of the greats of the game, to support the RPA and raise essential funds for the RPA Benevolent Fund – The professional players charity.”

RPA Computacenter Rugby Players’ Awards 2011
Computacenter Players’ Player of the Year:
Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers). Runners-up: Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Nick Evans (Harlequins)
Norman Broadbent Young Player of the Year – The Nick Duncombe Memorial Award: Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) Runners-up: Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Special Merit Award, sponsored by HSBC: Danny Grewcock MBE
LV Hall of Fame Induction: Lawrence Dallaglio OBE
The Blyth Spirit Award sponsored by Towergate tlc: James Tincknell (Leeds Carnegie)
The Sunday Times Try of the Year: Michael Claassens (Bath v Exeter Chiefs) Runners-up: Schalk Brits (Saracens v Gloucester), Sireli Naqelevuki (Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints)