The National Rugby League (NRL) and RLPA are pleased to announce James Fisher-Harris and Shontelle Stowers as the winners of the 2023 NRL and NRLW Pasifika Leadership & Excellence awards.
The awards have been announced as part of the NRL's Wellbeing & Education Awards, which acknowledge and celebrate the significant amount of dedication, commitment and effort NRL and NRLW players put in to their lives from the field.
The Pasifika Leadership & Excellence award recognises and celebrates current NRL and NRLW players from a Pasifika and Māori heritage who are leading the way on the field, within their club as well as the wider rugby league community.
"This award is a representation not just of the finalists but also the strong ties that our players have back to their family and community," said David Solomona, NRL Player Wellbeing Programs & Pasifika & Faith Lead.
"As the largest ethnic group across the game [with 45 percent of NRL players identifying as Pasifika], our finalists epitomise the core values our diverse cultures bring to the game of rugby league and encourage the next generation to be proud of where they are from and the eventual legacy they will leave behind."
Hymel Hunt (Knights) and Tautau Moga (Dragons) featured as finalists for the NRL award alongside Fisher-Harris, while Corban Baxter (Roosters) and Botille Vette-Welsh (Wests Tigers) were finalists for the NRLW award with Stowers.
NRL Winner – James Fisher-Harris (Panthers)
James has taken on numerous leadership roles in the last 12months, both on the field and within and the club and the community. Captaining the Māori team at this year’s All-Star game as well as connecting with the community and PCYC with Haka Warrior Program, James’ is also currently working towards being an accredited S&C. James has been engaged in a Māori course quite some time, and currently sits on the Pasifika Players Advisory Group and is an RLPA Delegate.
Acknowledging and celebrating our cultural heritage is extremely important as it is to all indigenous nations, being proud of who you are and knowing the role this plays on the next generation with bringing confidence to our community despite our differences.James Fisher-Harris
NRLW Winner – Shontelle Stowers (Eels)
Shontelle’s willingness to put her time into causes and spaces she believes are important is evident in the groups she participates in. She is an RLPA delegate, a wellbeing delegate for Family of League and part of her club’s leadership team. Shontelle is the founder of Moana Wellness which does breath-work and coaching, has she been engaged in a Samoan language course for quite some time, as well as advocating for Pasifika in and around the game.
Knowing that other young Pasifika players can see another Pasifika player out there doing things they dream of and breaking down barriers is really important to me. So are the future opportunities of these incredible young people entering this space and doing well when they are in it.Shontelle Stowers