Austbrokers Canberra CRC TOTY: Coach

In our final Team of the Year segment we pick who will coach the side we have already selected.

Coach: Steve & Scott Naughton (Yass Magpies)

Having narrowly missed a playing spot in our Team of the Year, the Naughton brothers get named as coach due to their fantastic achievements this past season.

Not picked by many as serious contenders at the start of the season, Yass quickly caught the attention of their opponents.

Although Yass finished sixth in 2016, Yass recruited well and performed strongly as they finished third in their second season back in the Austbrokers Canberra CRC.

The Naughton brothers were duly rewarded at the McIntyre Medal Awards Night as they picked up the Don Furner Sr Shield.

Contenders: Terry Campese (Queanbeyan Blues), Justin Giteau (Tuggeranong Bushrangers), Ash Barnes (Woden Valley Rams), Aaron Gorrell (Queanbeyan Kangaroos)

Full Team of the Year:

1. Ryan McQueen (West Belconnen Warriors
2. Brendon Taueki (Queanbeyan Blues
3. Willie Peace (Yass Magpies)
4. Cleve McGhie (Woden Valley Rams)
5. Jedidiah Simbiken (Queanbeyan Kangaroos)
6. Brent Crisp (Queanbeyan Kangaroos)
7. Terry Campese (Queanbeyan Blues)
8. Josh Ayers (Queanbeyan Kangaroos)
9. Josh Mitchell (Tuggeranong Bushrangers)
10. Sam Sotogi (Yass Magpies)
11. Tori Freeman-Quay (West Belconnen Warriors)
12. Michael Cullen (Queanbeyan Blues)
13. Aisea Taholo (Queanbeyan Kangaroos)

Interchage

14. Quinlyn Cannon (Tuggeranong Bushrangers)
15. Connor Brebner (West Belconnen Warriors)
16. Mike Uluakiola (Tuggeranong Bushrangers)
17. Ron Leapai (Woden Valley Rams)

 

Coaches: Steve & Scott Naughton

Photo: R.S. Williams

After a fantastic 2017 Austbrokers Canberra CRC season, we will begin a segment in which we will pick our Team of the Year.

First up, is the fullback position where there are a number of high quality candidates.

Fullback: Ryan McQueen (West Belconnen Warriors)

Starting the season in the unfamiliar position of halfback, McQueen starred for a struggling Warriors outfit before reverting to his favored fullback position in the second half of the season.

With the captain back in his familiar position, the Warriors improved markedly as they launched a strong run towards the finals.

During this run towards the finals, McQueen scored an incredible nine tries in seven games but it wasn’t enough as West Belconnen narrowly missed a finals berth.

Overall, the 22-year-old scored 12 tries for the season with two hattricks for the season.

Contenders: Andrew Swaffield (Yass Magpies), Jake Wheeler (Queanbeyan Blues), Tyler Cornish (Goulburn Workers Bulldogs)


 

Continuing with our Team of the Year series, we take a look at the wingers.

Wingers: Jedidiah Simbiken (Queanbeyan Kangaroos) & Brendon Taueki (Queanbeyan Blues)

Having played only three Austbrokers Canberra CRC matches before this season, the 19-year old speedster burst onto the scene in 2017.

Throughout the season, Simbiken used his blistering pace to score 14 tries this season from 14 games.

Having enjoyed success for the Kangaroos this season, Simbiken was a part of the successful Monaro side in this year’s U23’s Country Championships and was duly rewarded with a place in the Country U23’s Representative side.

Taueki on the other hand was playing his first season in the Austbrokers Canberra CRC as part of a contingent of Queanbeyan Blues players who joined from rugby union backgrounds.

Although Taueki hadn’t played rugby league in Canberra for over a decade, it didn’t take long for him to find his feet in the competition.

The 26 year old scored 16 tries and proved to be a handy reserve kicker for the Blues with three goals during the season.

Contenders: Jayden Pollard (Tuggeranong Bushrangers), Dominic Stephens (Goulburn Workers Bulldogs), Jesse Collins (Yass Magpies)


 

The next instalment of the Team of the Year sees us take a look at our options in the centers.

Centers: Willie Peace (Yass Magpies) & Cleve McGhie (Woden Valley Rams)

Willie Peace came to the Austbrokers Canberra CRC with a glowing resume. Having started his career with the Cronulla Sharks, he’d played NSW Cup for the New Zealand Warriors as well as representing Samoa.

He did his reputation no harm during 2017 as he scored six tries to help take Yass one game away from a grand final.

However, it wasn’t simply his try scoring feats that forced his way into this side. A strong runner of the ball, Peace often took the workload off his forward pack and also created opportunities for those around him with his footwork and ability to offload.

Cleve McGhie showed his incredible consistency in an otherwise inconsistent Woden side.

Despite being in his early 20’s, McGhie is remarkably one of the more experienced heads at the Rams, and the powerful center lead the way with ten tries in 12 matches.

McGhie, who also appeared in the second row this season, was rewarded for his efforts this season as he finished equal fourth for the McIntyre Medal.

Contenders: Isieli Afemui (Tuggeranong Bushrangers), Junior Vatikani (Yass Magpies), Thomas Ruediger (Queanbeyan Blues)

Up next: Halves


 

In the next installment of the Austbrokers Canberra CRC Team of the Year, we take a look at the halves.

Five-Eighth: Brent Crisp (Queanbeyan Kangaroos) Halfback: Terry Campese (Queanbeyan Blues)

No surprises in the halves as Crisp and Campese get the nod after leading their respective sides to the Grand Final this season.

Crisp had arguably his most memorable season in the Austbrokers Canberra CRC to date as he won almost every individual award possible.

Although Crisp only played in ten of a possible 16 matches during the regular season, the talented playmaker was the league’s leading try scorer, point scorer and was deservedly awarded the Les McIntyre Medalist.

Campese, on the other hand, played nearly every game for the Queanbeyan Blues as he led his junior club to a premiership in his first season as captain-coach.

Although the former Australian international had undergone more than his fair share of injuries in the past few seasons, Campese managed to take to the field in all but one game in 2017.

Having played all his career with the number 6 jersey on his back, Campese is named at halfback due to his clinical organisational skills he displayed throughout the season.

Contenders: Scott Naughton (Yass Magpies), Steve Naughton (Yass Magpies), Joshua Essex (Queanbeyan Blues)

Up next: Front Row

 


 

Continuing with our Team of the Year series, we take a look at the second row.

Second Rowers: Tori Freeman-Quay (West Belconnen Warriors) & Michael Cullen (Queanbeyan Blues)

Although it wasn’t the title defence that West Belconnen were hoping for, nobody could blame their failure to make the finals on Tori Freeman-Quay.

In a year that he won the Country Rugby League Player of the Year Award, Freeman-Quay continually showed his appetite for hard with his uncompromising defence and willingness to run the ball out of defence.

However, the 23-year-old has shown much more than just his tendency to run and tackle hard, the second-rower scored five tries this season and was able create tries for the players outside him.

Michael Cullen slipped under the radar as the Blues claimed the 2017 Premiership.

With most of the attention on Terry Campese and the rugby union converts, the Queanbeyan junior amassed 10 tries for the season, the equal most for any forward alongside Woden’s Michael Gilmour.

Of these tries, two of them came when the Blues needed them most. Coming into the preliminary final against Yass off the back of three straight losses, Cullen linked up with Campese to score twice in the opening moments and to send the Blues into the grand final.

Contenders: Mike Uluakiola (Tuggeranong Bushrangers), Michael Gilmour (Woden Valley Rams), Blake Hewitt (Goulburn Workers Bulldogs), Ben Sione (Belconnen United Sharks)

Up next: Lock


 

In the next installment of the Austbrokers Canberra CRC Team of the Year, we will decide on who will be named at lock.

Lock: Aisea Taholo (Queanbeyan Kangaroos)

Returning to the Austbrokers Canberra CRC after a one year absence, Aisea Taholo was the epitome of consistency for the Kangaroos in their charge to the 2017 Grand Final.

Having played all 18 games for the Kangaroos, and captaining the side on one occasion, the 24-year-old was impressive with his ability in defence and eagerness to run the ball.

The former NSW Cup player also managed to score one try for the season.

Contenders: Jeff Morgan (Woden Valley Rams), Brent Wallace (Tuggeranong Bushrangers), Kyle Danilczak (Yass Magpies)

Up next: Bench


 

Having named our starting thirteen, we continue our Team of the Year series by naming our bench for the 2017 season.

Bench: Quinlyn Cannon (Tuggeranong Bushrangers), Connor Brebner (West Belconnen Warriors), Mike Uluakiola (Tuggeranong Bushrangers), Ron Leapai (Woden Valley Rams)

Although Cannon wasn’t in the running for a starting position, few players could claim to impact a game from the bench as well as the elusive dummy half.

The 19-year-old from North Queensland scored eight tries for the season despite being used as a utility for the majority of the season.

After struggles earlier in the season, Brebner gave the Warriors good field position with his damaging runs down field.

The giant prop also managed to find the try line with four tries throughout the season.

Capable of playing at prop but more at home in the second row, Uluakiola showed plenty of heart with his tenacious performances.

Not known as a try scorer, the former New Zealand Warriors NYC player managed two crucial tries this season against Woden and West Belconnen.

Like his Woden Valley teammates, Leapai came into his own during the second half of the season. The big prop impressed with his ball running ability but showed his match winning ability in Woden’s home game against Tuggeranong.

Staring at defeat, Leapai changed the momentum of the match with a barnstorming try as the Rams clinched a draw in dramatic circumstances.


 

In our final Team of the Year segment we pick who will coach the side we have already selected.

Coach: Steve & Scott Naughton (Yass Magpies)

Having narrowly missed a playing spot in our Team of the Year, the Naughton brothers get named as coach due to their fantastic achievements this past season.

Not picked by many as serious contenders at the start of the season, Yass quickly caught the attention of their opponents.

Although Yass finished sixth in 2016, Yass recruited well and performed strongly as they finished third in their second season back in the Austbrokers Canberra CRC.

The Naughton brothers were duly rewarded at the McIntyre Medal Awards Night as they picked up the Don Furner Sr Shield.

Contenders: Terry Campese (Queanbeyan Blues), Justin Giteau (Tuggeranong Bushrangers), Ash Barnes (Woden Valley Rams), Aaron Gorrell (Queanbeyan Kangaroos)

Full Team of the Year:

Ryan McQueen (West Belconnen Warriors)

Brendon Taueki (Queanbeyan Blues)

Willie Peace (Yass Magpies)

Cleveland McGhie (Woden Valley Rams)

Jedidiah Simbiken (Queanbeyan Kangaroos)

Brent Crisp (Queanbeyan Kangaroos)

Terry Campese (Queanbeyan Blues)

Josh Ayers (Queanbeyan Kangaroos)

Josh Mitchell (Tuggeranong Bushrangers)

Sam Sotogi (Yass Magpies)

Tori Freeman-Quay (West Belconnen Warriors)

Michael Cullen (Queanbeyan Blues)

Aisea Taholo (Queanbeyan Kangaroos)

Interchage

Quinlyn Cannon (Tuggeranong Bushrangers)

Connor Brebner (West Belconnen Warriors)

Mike Uluakiola (Tuggeranong Bushrangers)

Ron Leapai (Woden Valley Rams)

Coaches: Steve & Scott Naughton




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