The award caps off a standout year for the 31 year old openside flanker who lead his country in all of their 7 internationals during 2013.
Following the November test matches , pacific island players voted for players of the year for Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji as well as voting for the overall ‘Pacific Players Player of the Year.’ The players selected Latu as the stand-out Tongan player.
Hurricanes and Samoan flanker Jack Lam was awarded the Samoan Player of the Year award, and Toulouse and Fijian Flanker Akapusi Qera as the Fijian player of the year.
Latu was delighted to win the overall award and receive such recognition from his peers.
Katie Taylor, Digicel Pacific Head of Marketing, congratulated the players and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to support PIPA and the Awards. “We are delighted to be associated with PIPA and endorse individual member’s achievements in 2013 through these awards. On behalf of Digicel I would like to congratulate all the winners and nominees. It can be no greater feeling than to be nominated for such awards by your playing peers and we wish all PIPA members all the best in their playing endeavours in 2014’’.
PIPA founding member and former Flying Fijians captain Deacon Manu paid tribute to the award winners, “there are few greater honours than to receive recognition from your peers for the hard work that goes into consistently performing on the international stage, on behalf of all the Pacific Island Players we congratulate Nili, Akapusi and Jack for their outstanding contribution to pacific island rugby during 2013.”
In recognition of the awards the winners each received a traditional kava bowl.
Samoan International and PIPA founding member Seilala Mapusua emphasized the importance for PIPA to recognise outstanding performances over a year, “all pacific island players cherish every opportunity to represent their country. With these awards we hope to inspire players from Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga to strive for excellence both on and off the field.”