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Leicester Tigers fans honour their Players of the Year

Telusa Veainu and Harry Thacker were double winners at the Leicester Tigers Player of the Year awards at Welford Road on Tuesday evening.

The Tigers squad and team management joined 400 supporters for the presentations at the DX Awards Night, with Veainu and Thacker marking their season with two awards each.
 
Veainu received the Best Newcomer Award and then scooped Player of the Year, as voted for by the supporters, in his first season at Welford Road.
 
"I have been very fortunate in coming here," said the 25-year-old Tonga international. "I didn't have much when I arrived and I'm very thankful for the faith the coaches have shown in me.
 
"These awards mean a lot to me. I've been given a great chance here and I'm really enjoying it. I'm just making the most of it."
 
Veainu has scored 11 tries in 24 appearances since his arrival after the World Cup, including one in the European Champions Cup semi-final last weekend. He topped the voting for Player of the Season ahead of the other shortlisted names – Peter Betham, Mike Fitzgerald, Lachlan McCaffrey, Matt Smith and Tom Youngs.
 
Thacker, 22, was named Young Player of the Year for a second time and also picked up the Try of the Season vote for his individual score in the win over Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens.
 
"I've played more than I thought I would this season due to circumstances and I'm just loving playing every time I get a chance," he said.
 
"The senior players have been a massive help and it has been a massive learning curve for me."
 
Matt Smith, who made his Tigers debut in March 2006 and now has more than 180 appearances for his hometown club, received the Outstanding Service Award, as voted by supporters.
 
"As a young lad all I wanted to do was play a few games for Leicester and I still think of myself as a Tigers fan, so it is a great honour to pick up the award," said Smith.
 
The Tigers Family Award, recognising the commitment and dedication of supporters, was won by Matthew Lane. Matthew is a season ticket holder on the Terrace in the Holland & Barrett Stand at Welford Road and was one of the organisers of the appeal to raise funds to support the family of former Tigers favourite Seru Rabeni which raised £3,500 despite an initial target of just £1,000.
 

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