Lunt takes top gong at Championships awards dinner

Hull KR captain Shaun Lunt has been crowned Kingstone Press Championship Player of the Year for 2017.

After leading his side in their successful League Leader’s campaign and their charge through the Qualifiers Super 8s to gain promotion and return to the Betfred Super League in 2018, Lunt tops off an impressive 2017 season by receiving the award, ahead of team mate Chris Atkin and Toulouse Olympique’s Mark Kheirallah who were also nominated.

The 30-year-old received his award at the Kingstone Press Championship and League 1 Awards at The Midland Hotel, Manchester, where many of the other stars of the 2017 season were honoured.

London Broncos coach Andrew Henderson was voted the Kingstone Press Coach of the Year after his side secured a 2017 Qualifiers position. Voted for by his fellow coaches, Henderson beat off stiff competition from Hull KR’s Tim Sheens and Richard Marshall of Halifax.

Bradford Bulls forward James Bentley scooped the Kingstone Press Championship Young Player of the Year, ahead of Alex Walker of London Broncos and Halifax hooker Brandon Moore.

Kingstone Press League 1 Player of the Year was awarded to Toronto Wolfpack’s Captain Craig Hall, a fitting reward after they achieved promotion to the Championship for 2018. Hall also finished the season as Kingstone Press League 1 leading goal and points scorer across the regular season and Super 8s campaign.

Whitehaven’s player-coach Carl Forster was named Kingstone Press League 1 Coach of the Year in his first year in charge of the club. In a tight competition, he beat James Ford of York City Knights and Barrow Raiders’ Paul Crarey to receive the award.

Lewis Young of Newcastle Thunder was named Kingstone Press League 1 Young Player of the Year, fending off strong competition from York City Knights’ Ash Robson and Liam Harris.

The Kingstone Press Championship Club of the Year was awarded to Hull Kingston Rovers, after they secured a return to the Betfred Super League just one year after relegation in the 2016 Million Pound Game. Hull KR secured the Kingstone Press Championship League Leaders’ Shield following an impressive regular season and have fought off tough opposition in the Qualifiers Super 8s to gain promotion.

The Kingstone Press League 1 Club of the Year award was presented to Toronto Wolfpack. In their first season since formation, the Wolfpack have dominated League 1 and secured promotion to the Championship. The club have also captivated a new audience for the sport in North America attracting crowds of over 6000 to each home game.

The Project of the Year award recognises clubs who have shown an outstanding commitment to meeting the objectives of raising the visibility and profile of the competition and increasing attendance at one or more games through a special project. Featherstone Rovers and York City Knights were the winners of the Project of the Year award for the Championship and League 1.

Featherstone Rovers were chosen to receive the award for their Sky Try Rugby League programme. They have delivered a programme which is comparable to larger foundations, working in 20 primary schools and engaging over 1000 children in the local area.

York City Knights were selected for the League 1 Project of the Year award for their #UpTheKneets social media campaign which aimed to increase awareness and attendance at their home game against Toronto Wolfpack. York created a series of short videos with the match details with current players but also Super League stars from across the game that were shared through social media channels. The campaign generated York’s highest match attendance of the season with over 2600 spectators.

The Foundation of the Year award, which is awarded to the best foundation in both leagues, was presented to Newcastle Thunder in recognition of their continued commitment to developing Rugby League in the North East. The foundation has enjoyed its most successful year to date, delivering over 600 coaching sessions and engaging with over 3,000 participants.

Ray Abbey was named as the 2017 Community Champion sponsored by Supporters Direct. Former player and coach Ray is a fantastic ambassador for the sport and has devoted his limited spare time to a number of community and fundraising projects involving rugby league throughout his life.

The player of the year, coach of the year and young player of the year award winners are selected by a poll of every coach in the Kingstone Press Championship and League 1.  The Club of the Year and Project of the Year awards are determined by the Rugby Football League Board, whilst the Foundation of the Year is selected by Rugby League Cares.

The 2017 Kingstone Press Championship and League 1 award winners in full are as follows:

Championship Player of the Year: Shaun Lunt (Hull Kingston Rovers)
Championship Young Player of the Year: James Bentley (Bradford Bulls)
Championship Coach of the Year: Andrew Henderson (London Broncos)
League 1 Player of the Year: Craig Hall (Toronto Wolfpack)
League 1 Young Player of the Year: Lewis Young (Newcastle Thunder)
League 1 Coach of the Year: Carl Forster (Whitehaven RLFC)
Championship Club of the Year: Hull Kingston Rovers
League 1 Club of the Year: Toronto Wolfpack
Championship Project of the Year: Featherstone Rovers
League 1 Project of the Year: York City Knights
Foundation of the Year: Newcastle Thunder
Supporters Direct Community Champion: Ray Abbey

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