Winning the prestigious Man of Steel award cushioned the blow of failing to reach the Super League Grand Final for Wigan full-back Sam Tomkins.
The 23-year-old England international, twice a winner of the Young Player of the Year award, received the top prize from Olympic gold medallist and Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins at an awards ceremony in Manchester on Monday night.
"It feels a bit surreal," Tomkins said. "It's a massive honour. It was an honour to be nominated and to pick it up is pretty special. I'd swap it for a Grand Final appearance if I'm honest but it makes it a little bit easier."
He added: "There were some great players nominated. Ben Westwood has been outstanding as James Roby is every single year.
"You always want to impress your peers and there are some big names who have publicly voted for me. When someone of the stature of Jamie Peacock, who is a living legend of the game, says he voted for you it's humbling."
Tomkins won the award ahead of St Helens hooker Roby and Warrington second-row forward Westwood in a secret ballot of his fellow Super League players. Former England captain Peacock revealed on his Twitter account that Tomkins got his vote.
Tomkins missed last Friday's semi-final defeat by Leeds with a knee injury sustained in Wigan's opening play-off win over Catalan Dragons but is confident of recovering in time for England's autumn internationals against Wales and France.
Tomkins is expected to be named in England coach Steve McNamara's 24-man squad for a 10-day training camp in South Africa when it is announced on Tuesday morning.
"It's not too bad," Tomkins said of his injury. "I'm working on it at the moment. I want to get it right for the England games."
Leeds full-back Zak Hardaker is also tipped for a call-up after being named young player of the year. The 20-year-old former Featherstone player will cap a hugely impressive first full season in Super League by completing an ever-present record in Saturday's Grand Final against Warrington.