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Iro named NSW Cup Player of the Year

Wednesday 14 September 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in League, Sports

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Iro named NSW Cup Player of the Year
Kayal Iro with the Knock-On Effect NSW Cup Player of the Year award. SHARKS MEDIA/22091315

Cook Islands rep Kayal Iro capped off a breakthrough season with the Knock-On Effect NSW Cup Player of the Year award over the weekend.

The impressive young outside back made his NRL debut late last month, signed a contract extension with the Sharks and represented the Cook Islands in a mid-year Test match against Samoa.

Playing for a Newtown Jets team, Iro was rewarded for a season where he topped the entire competition for post-contact metres, scored 12 tries, made 14 line breaks and had an incredible 97 tackle busts.

In an interview with Sharks Media after receiving his award, Iro, the son of former rugby league star Kevin, said he was shocked and lost for words.

He paid tribute to his father Kevin and uncle Tony, both New Zealand internationals.

“They had massive influence especially my dad, he’s always trained me as a young kid … he didn’t really push me to play footy but I wanted to follow in his footsteps so I think that has led me to here now.”

The 22-year-old’s mum Tina Iro in a Facebook post on Monday said: “I thank God for the outstanding year that our humble son has had. Last night he was awarded Player of the Year for the New South Wales Cup. A couple of weeks ago his prayers were answered and he made his debut for the Cronulla Sharks.”

“Kayal’s true grit and determination has got him this far. He has had many setbacks and disappointments, but he remained positive and true to himself. As a parent, it is so encouraging to see our children pushing through. Proud is an understatement.”

Cook Islands Rugby League president Charles Carlson said the award was an extraordinary achievement for Iro “who has become a role model for juniors and local players wanting to play at this level”.

“I have always argued for the Cook Islands to compete at the highest level of rugby league, we must get our players into the NRL system. That is the standard we want to set, and the result speaks for itself, taking both our men and women to the World Cup 2023. The next challenge is to make sure we remain competitive at that level,” Carlson said.

“Seeing these young players like Kayal is very encouraging for the future. We need to change our mindset and adapt to the changes otherwise we will be left behind.”

Iro delivered on his immense promise while representing the Jets, to where his talents couldn’t be ignored by the Sharks at the NRL level.

Promoted into the Sharks top-30 earlier this year, then called into the team to play the Bulldogs in round 24, in a match won by the Cronulla side and where he ran for 184 metres on the night, Iro will be aiming to push for a regular place in the NRL squad in 2023 after signing a two-year contract extension.

Iro was presented his award at the NSWRL Brad Fittler Medal event on Sunday night (Cook Islands time) with James Tedesco taking out the major prize on the night and Sharks Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership player Andie Robinson named NSW Women’s Under-19’s Origin Player of the Year.

  • Sharks Media/RK