Sonny Bill Williams wins player of the year honour ahead of the World Cup final
Sonny Bill Williams has been named the Rugby League International Federation player of the year.
Last Updated: 28/11/13 9:55am
The award caps an incredible return to the sport for the 28-year-old, who resumed his rugby league career at the turn of the year after five years spent playing rugby union and boxing.
Williams beat Australia's Greg Inglis and Scotland and Huddersfield's Danny Brough, the Super League Man of Steel, to the top award at the RLIF's gala dinner at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester.
He played a huge role as the Roosters won their first NRL Grand Final for a decade and has also helped New Zealand to reach Saturday's World Cup final against Australia.
The award began in 2008 and Williams becomes the first Kiwi to win it, Australians having taken the honours for the first five years.
The New Zealand players paid tribute to Williams by performing a haka while he was on stage collecting his award.
"It's just been a blessed year, thank God," he said. "I accept this award on behalf of my team-mates that have put me in a position to play well, my coaches and of course my family.
"I wouldn't say I was a world star but I've been very blessed to have been in quite a few amazing teams with some amazing players and amazing coaches."
Williams was also named in the 2013 international team of the year, as were Inglis and Brough.
The team also includes England front rower Sam Burgess, whose younger brother George was named rookie of the year, an award which is open to players aged 21 or under who made their Test debut during the voting period.
Trent Robinson guided Sydney Roosters to their NRL success and he was named coach of the year while former BARLA chief executive Maurice Oldroyd was presented with the RLIF spirit of rugby league award, in order to recognise his commitment to international development.
Player of the Year: Sonny Bill Williams (Sydney Roosters and New Zealand).
Coach of the year: Trent Robinson (Sydney Roosters and Australia).
Rookie of the year: George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs and England).
Referee of the year: Ben Cummins (Australia).
Spirit of Rugby League Award: Maurice Oldroyd.
Team of the year (only one player picked per position):
Full-back: Greg Inglis (South Sydney and Australia).
Winger: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters and New Zealand).
Centre: Jamie Lyon (Manly).
Stand-off: Danny Brough (Huddersfield and Scotland).
Scrum-half: Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly and Australia).
Prop: Sam Burgess (South Sydney and England).
Hooker: Issac Luke (South Sydney and New Zealand).
Second row: Sonny Bill Williams (Sydney Roosters and New Zealand).
Loose forward: Corey Parker (Brisbane and Australia).