Ben Whale is the Premier MVP
By Jared Smith
It truly has been a welcome homecoming for the prodigal son as Byford’s Readmix Taihape No8 Ben Whale was confirmed as the 2021 Most Valuable Player award recipient at the end of the round robin games last weekend.
The MVP prize is determined by most overall points awarded out of each Tasman Tanning Premier regular season match, on a 3-2-1 allocation basis, over the ten weeks.
At the halfway point of the season in late-May, Whale had made an immediate impact on his side’s fortunes, accumulating 11 points to sit two clear of McCarthy’s Transport Ruapehu’s hard working flanker (and occasional back) Jack Kinder, followed by gifted Waverley Harvesting Border loose forward Semi Vodosese.
Four more points for Whale over the second round, during which Taihape won the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield by finally ending Border’s 17-game winning streak, were enough to secure the prize, with a three-way tie for second between Kinder, Vodosese, and Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist’s inspirational captain Brad Graham.
Graham and Ruapehu’s indomitable loose forward Campbell Hart both finished in the Top 5 for consecutive seasons.
A former club player in Dunedin while he attended teachers college, making the Otago B squad, Whale had spent the previous three years in England as a teacher, playing in Tunbridge Wells.
Covid-19 saw his return home to play alongside brothers Dane and Luke, while their legendary 100-game Steelform Whanganui capped father Kerry rejoined the Taihape coaching staff.
MVP Top 10
1. Ben Whale (Taihape) 15 points
2=. Jack Kinder (Ruapehu) 14
2=. Semi Vodosese (Border) 14
2=. Brad Graham (Marist) 14
5. Campbell Hart (Ruapehu) 12
6=. Jack Yarrall (Marist) 11
6=. Hadlee Hay-Horton (Taihape) 11
8=. Vereniki Tikoisolomone (Border) 10
8=. Tyler Rogers Holden (Taihape) 10
10. Craig Clare (Border) 9.