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Hughes earns first Storm Player of the Year title

Halfback Jahrome Hughes has capped off his best year as an NRL player by winning the Melbourne Storm Player of the Year Award for the first time.

The Kiwi international, who earlier this year extended his contract with Storm to the end of the 2024 season, also completed the double by winning the RedZed Members’ Player of the Year Award, again for the first time, at tonight’s end-of-season awards function at The Glasshouse.

Hughes becomes only the second Storm back to win the Player of the Year honour in the past 12 seasons and adds the two awards to the Back of the Year trophy he picked up in 2019 after his successful switch from the No.1 jersey to the No.7.

He picked up the three points as man-of-the-match four times during the 2021 season and such was his great on-field consistency, he secured Player of the Year votes in almost half of the games he played.

However, Hughes was pushed all the way by hooker Brandon Smith, only sealing his victory by picking up the three points in the final game of the year, the preliminary final loss to Penrith, after coming into the game one point ahead of his New Zealand teammate.

With 27 points, Hughes ended up four clear of Smith, with Christian Welch (20), Dale Finucane (19) and early leader Ryan Papenhuyzen (17) filling out the top five.

Hughes was Storm’s chief attacking weapon in 2021, finishing in the top 10 in the NRL with career highs for try assists (19) and linebreaks (20), as well as equalling the best tryscoring haul of his five seasons in Melbourne with nine tries.

Smith’s season saw him recognised with the Forward of the Year Award for the second straight season, while Papenhuyzen was named Back of the Year, also for the second time.

NRL Victoria product Dean Ieremia earned the Rookie of the Year Award after playing 10 games, and scoring six tries, in his debut season.

Tonight’s function also gave Storm the chance to officially farewell its departing players including co-captain Dale Finucane, two-time premiership winger Josh Addo-Carr and 2020 grand final squad members Brenko Lee and Nicho Hynes, who will play elsewhere in 2022.

Storm 2021 awards

Members’ Player of the Year: Jahrome Hughes

Billy Slater Rookie of the Year: Dean Ieremia

Most Improved Player: Nicho Hynes

Best Forward of the Year: Brandon Smith

Best Back of the Year: Ryan Papenhuyzen

Try of the Year: George Jennings (round 18)

Cooper Cronk Feeder Player of the Year Award: Marion Seve

Greg Brentnall Young Achievers Award: Jay Natapu

Under-20s Darren Bell Medal: Antonio Sanele

Michael Moore Award Clubperson of the Year: Meirion Jones

Chairman’s Award: Michael Christo

Last 10 winners of Storm Player of the Year Award

2021: Jahrome Hughes

2020: Cameron Smith

2019: Dale Finucane

2018: Cameron Munster

2017: Cameron Smith

2016: Jesse Bromwich

2015: Jesse Bromwich

2014: Jesse Bromwich

2013: Cameron Smith

2012: Cameron Smith