After outstanding international seasons, James Fisher-Harris [Kiwi #801] and Georgia Hale [Kiwi Fern #122] have both been awarded the Player of the Year for 2023. The Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year award goes to Matthew Timoko and Annessa Biddle, while Rocco Berry has been named the Kiwis A Player of the Year.
James Fisher-Harris [Kiwi #801] solidified his position as one of the top front rowers in the game in 2023. Fisher-Harris led the Kiwis to a historic thrashing of the Kangaroos, producing 142 run metres in the team’s effort to win the Pacific Championships. Thanks to his outstanding performances in the Pacific Championships, the Kohukohu star also won the prestigious 2023 IRL Golden Boot award.
In her ninth season of International Rugby League, Georgia Hale [Kiwi Fern #122] takes home Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year as well as the 2023 IRL Golden Boot award. Hale’s captaincy heroics helped the Kiwi Ferns break a seven-year drought with their recent win against the Jillaroos. Hale topped the tackle count, producing 130 tackles and 388 run metres over the international season.
NZRL GM of Football & High-Performance Motu Tony says, “The impact both Georgia and Fish have not only on their teammates but their communities especially here in New Zealand is inspiring.
To have a year where our two New Zealand captains not only led their teams to historic victories over Australia but also both took home their respective Golden Boots is something special.
Winning the Golden Boot awards is a testament to their work ethic, dedication to the jersey and ability to lead from the front.”
Matthew Timoko had an outstanding international debut, with the 23-year-old producing class performances across all three matches. The Ellerslie Eagles junior recorded one try, 416 run metres, and 14 tackle breaks throughout the Pacific Championships campaign.
Annessa Biddle takes home Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year after exploding onto the international scene. Biddle displayed her dominant ball-running ability and versatility, initially starting on the wing then moving into second row for the final two matches. The Otara native was instrumental in the victory against Tonga’s women, producing one try, 135 run metres, and 24 tackles.
Rocco Berry is the Kiwis A Player of the Year after a stellar test match against the Tonga A men. Berry produced a try-saving tackle and a spectacular try assist using great footwork and an even better flick offload. His feats ignited a late-game surge which saw the Kiwis A side come from behind to claim victory 36-26.
NZRL GM of Football & High-Performance Motu Tony says, “In a year where we saw 16 debuts in the Black & White jersey plus the return of the Kiwis A, it was no easy feat for our coaches to choose only one stand-out rookie.
The depth of this next generation of Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns is exciting and positions us well for the 2026 Rugby League World Cup. I look forward to seeing these young players continue to develop and shine on the international stage
2023 New Zealand Rugby League Award Winners
New Zealand Kiwis Player of the Year – James Fisher-Harris
New Zealand Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year – Georgia Hale
New Zealand Kiwis Rookie of the Year – Matthew Timoko
New Zealand Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year – Annessa Biddle
New Zealand Kiwis A Player of the Year – Rocco Berry