Harumichi Tatekawa was named the Japan Rugby League One MVP of the season on Monday after captaining Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay to their first-ever title.
"I'm really surprised. I hope to develop further to win this award again next season," said the 33-year-old center, whose kick pass set up Haruto Kida's decisive try during Saturday's 17-15 playoff final win over Saitama Wild Knights at Tokyo's National Stadium.
Tatekawa -- who was part of the Japan team that shocked South Africa in Brighton, England, at the 2015 Rugby World Cup -- was lauded after the final by his coach Frans Ludeke and teammates as being the "spiritual" leader of the club.
And true to form, Tatekawa once again put his team first.
"I'm happier with the team winning the title than my own accolade," he said during the award ceremony.
Despite being named the MVP, Tatekawa was unable to make the Best XV, which was voted for by fans, media, players and coaches.
However, the Spears were represented by Kida, hooker Malcolm Marx, prop Opeti Helu and fly-half Bernard Foley.
Tomoki Osada was named the rookie of the season after scoring eight tries for Wild Knights, and the center/wing was among four Saitama players in the Best XV, along with veteran prop Keita Inagaki, who was picked for the ninth straight year including Top League era selections.
Tokyo Sungoliath wing Seiya Ozaki also made the list after scoring a league-leading 18 tries this season.
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