Former Stags lock Hoani Macdonald has been named New Zealand Marist 2008 rugby player of the year.
Now plying his trade for the Gwent-Newport Dragons in Wales, Macdonald headed off a list of high-profile nominees, including All Blacks Anthony Boric, Isaia Toeava and Rudi Wulf.
Southland's Marist delegate at the association's annual conference in Wellington last week, Geoff Murdoch, said the player of the year award was a prestigious honour.
In his memory it was the first time a Southlander had won the title.
"There were other guys who had a higher profile, but Hoani has always been a great club man. When he hasn't been playing for the Highlanders or the Stags he has always tried to play for Marist as much as he could." Macdonald, 30, joined Marist after leaving high school and had been with the club until heading overseas.
The New Zealand junior and New Zealand Maori representative shifted to Wales last year on a two-year deal after 58 games for Southland.
- The Southland Times