Newcastle Falcon Vereniki Goneva along with Director of Rugby Dean Richards have claimed the top prizes at the Premiership Rugby Awards for 2018.
Flying Fijian winger Goneva had already won his club’s Player of the Season, Players’ Player of the Season and Try of the Season awards ahead of Premiership Rugby’s annual ceremony at the Royal Lancaster Hotel.
The accolades keep on coming for 34-year-old Goneva after he was named Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season by a panel of judges, beating out Danny Cipriani of Wasps, Don Armand of Exeter Chiefs, Sale Sharks’ Faf De Klerk and Jamie Gibson of Northampton Saints to earn the title. Goneva’s award comes just one week after fellow Fijian Leone Nakarawa was named EPCR European Player of the Year for his efforts with French club Racing 92.
Goneva played an integral part for the Falcons this season as they made their way to their first Premiership semi-final in their history, scoring 13 tries to also walk away with the Top Try Scorer award, sharing it with Worcester Warriors’ Josh Adams.
And Newcastle’s success this year also saw Richards named the season’s best Director of Rugby as he prepares his side for their semi-final clash with Exeter on Saturday.
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Talking about his and Goneva’s award, Richards said: “Niki is a very humble guy who will take no pleasure in being singled out for an individual award because he is very much a team-oriented person, although clearly he will be honoured to receive this accolade.
“Even in a season like we are having it is hard not to single him out when he has performed to such a consistently high level throughout, doing it time and time again, and he is right up there in the world class bracket for me when it comes to finishing.
“He defies the ageing process with the physical condition he keeps himself in, he is a phenomenal athlete but also has a thorough understanding of the game and how he can influence it.
“When I first met him for a chat two years ago in Betty’s Tea Room in Harrogate I couldn’t believe how fortunate we were to be signing such a quality guy as well as an amazing player.
“The way he carries himself as a person is just something else, he is very selfless in everything he does but it’s clear to everyone what an important player he is for Newcastle Falcons as a club and Aviva Premiership Rugby as a competition.”
There was another accolade for Newcastle to celebrate as Sinoti Sinoti’s sensational score against Exeter Chiefs in Round 13 was voted by the public as the Try of the Season.
Sinoti’s try was just one of the record 776 tries scored in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season – topping the mark of 750 set in the 1999-2000 season.
In addition, 6,379 points were scored, the most since 1999-2000, with Saracens’ Owen Farrell winning the Golden Boot award with a total of 171 points to his name.
And to round off the night master of ceremonies Martin Bayfield announced the BT Sport Dream Team, honouring 15 players from eight different clubs.
1. Ellis Genge – Leicester Tigers
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie – Exeter Chiefs
3. John Afoa – Gloucester Rugby
4. Calum Green – Newcastle Falcons
5. Ed Slater – Gloucester Rugby
6. Jamie Gibson – Northampton Saints
7. Don Armand – Exeter Chiefs
8. Sam Simmonds – Exeter Chiefs
9. Faf De Klerk – Sale Sharks
10. Danny Cipriani – Wasps
11. Josh Adams – Worcester Warriors
12. Matt Toomua – Leicester Tigers
13. Rob Horne – Northampton Saints
14. Vereniki Goneva – Newcastle Falcons
15. Willie Le Roux – Wasps
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