2017 TEAM OF THE YEAR
By Les Muir
Southcity and Gundagai finished first and second respectively on the Group Nine ladder and have also dominated the Team of the Year.
In a show of strength, three players from each team landed positions in the coveted Team of the Year.
Southcity is represented by Usaia O’Sullivan, Hayden Jeans and Kyle McCarthy and Gundagai by Dane O’Hehir, James Smart and Blake Dunn.
O’Sullivan and Jeans and Smart were each named six times in the Team of the Week over the course of the season, while McCarthy made five appearances.
The players polling the most times in the Team of the Week are guaranteed positions in the Team of the Year, while a countback can be used to break any deadlocks.
Tumut second rower Adam Pearce was the only other player to poll six times, clinching him a prime spot in the pack.
Significantly, O’Hehir was named as a winger rather than in his correct place at fullback.
Normally, players are only named in the Team of the Year in their specialist position, but discretionary powers were used to include O’Hehir on the flank.
Kangaroos’ livewire Tristan Dickson tipped out O’Hehir for the fullback role, but the Gundagai star was included on the wing as a just reward his superb efforts this year.
Likewise, Brothers fullback Cade Price was also named as winger, but also thoroughly deserved a spot.
Dickson made four appearances in the Team of the Week in 2017, one ahead of O’Hehir and Price who are more than capable of playing on the wing.
Coincidentally, no wingers were nominated more than twice in the Team of the Week in the 18 premiership rounds.
After a split decision, Temora’s Hayden Philp edged out Gundagai’s Luke Berkrey for lock, but the Tigers tearaway was named on an interchange list also including Ben Jeffery (Kangaroos), Nick Skinner (Southcity) and Matt Forsyth (Cootamundra).
Brothers, Young and Kangaroos have two representatives each in the Team of the Year, while Pearce is the odd man out.
Young captain-coach James Woolford was named at hooker, alongside prop and team-mate Kyle Richens.
Brothers’ game-breaker Peter Little joined Price in the Team of the Year., while a group of players were afforded notable mention.
It must be stressed that the “official” Group Nine Team ofthe Year, as selected by the 11 coaches, will be unveiled at Weissel Medal ceremony in October.
2017 TEAM OF THE YEAR
Fullback: Tristan Dickson (Kangaroos)
Wingers: Cade Price (Brothers), Dane O’Hehir (Gundagai)
Centres: Usaia O’Sullivan (Southcity), Peter Little (Brothers)
Five-eighth: James Smart (Gundagai)
Halfback: Kyle McCarthy (Southcity)
Lock: Hayden Philp (Temora)
Second rowers: Adam Pearce (Tumut), Blake Dunn (Gundagai)
Props: Hayden Jeans (Southcity), Kyle Richens (Young)
Hooker: James Woolford (Young)
Interchange: Luke Berkrey (Gundagai), Ben Jeffery (Kangaroos), Matt Forsyth (Cootamundra), Nick Skinner (Southcity)
Notable mention: Brayden Draber (Tumut), Will Scott (Young), Damian Willis (Gundagai), Joel Field (Gundagai), Ben Roddy (Tumut), Raymond Talimalie (Young), Trent Schubach (Junee), Aaron Wynne (Brothers), James Luff (Gundagai)