Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rhys Pritchard - NSW Cup Team of the Year

Well folks this is it! It is finally time to announce the NSWRL.com.au NSW Cup Team of the Year for 2010.

Firstly we would like to start by thanking you all for your assistance and feedback via your comments on NSWRL.com.au and also on our New South Wales Rugby League, Facebook fan page. We have had such an amazing response by you the public and the NSW Cup footy fans in kind.

This type of response just goes to prove what a passionate bunch of supporters the NSW Cup fans are and we will continue to work with you all in promoting what we feel is the best second tier rugby league competition in the world.

Secondly we promise you we have been monitoring your suggestions vigorously over the past few days and taking all of your feedback on board with an open mind and no preconceived judgments about any player in any position.

We fully appreciate that regardless of the makeup of this side that we are about to announce, that the debate will continue and not everyone will be satisfied but with that said, we have had a job to do and we believe we have done it to the best of our ability with no favour shown to any team or individual.

Just so this procedure is fully transparent let me explain who, we, are.

Our panel consisted of the two NSWRL Media Officers in Brad Preston and Jamie Anderson who have provided you all with the popular www.nswrl.com.au Weekend Game-Cast right throughout the 2010 season.

This innovation has allowed you the fans the opportunity to keep in touch with more of the NSW Cup action than ever before via TV, Radio, Game-Cast’s, Photo Galleries and Score Updates, and we thank you all for your support and hope to continue to grow this concept with your help in 2011.

In providing this service, both Brad and Jamie have each attended at least one NSW Cup match per weekend right throughout the 2010 season, and in a lot of cases often more. We also have access to the full match highlights which you the punter view each and every week on this very website. To top this all off, Brad Preston was also the NSW Residents Media Manager, and in this role was privy to many selection discussions which was also used as a reference when forming opinions for our selections.

While most fans giving their opinions on whom they feel should make the side often have formed said opinions based on only ever really focusing on their favourite side, and to be fair this is only human nature, but we feel we have a less influenced view whilst having probably witnessed a wider spread of matches involving more teams in the process.

The third and final member of our selection panel is the Chief Editor of Rugby League News, Terry Liberopoulos.

Terry’s knowledge of both the NSW Cup and the Bundaberg Red Cup is second to none and like our NSWRL Media Officers, Terry is present around the grounds each and every weekend as part of his role for Rugby League News.

A couple of final points before we move onto the side, the first being that it is important to remember that this side is purely the opinions of the above panels members and is in no way the opinions of any other NSWRL staff or affiliated members and that the side is named purely as a point of recognition for all of the players hard work.

The second main point being that the panel has absolutely no knowledge of the Official Player of the Year points and hence these points were not taken into account when forming our sides. So it is quite conceivable that a player who misses out on our side may in fact still go on to be named as the NSW Cup Player of the Year.

Also lastly we tried to balance out our selection with a preference given to players who have played the vast majority of their football this year in the NSW Cup, and not the NRL. So before you read on consider this point with regard to the non-selection of players such as Kane Linnett or Sandor Earl for instance.

Ok with all that out of the way, let’s move onto the fun stuff. Here is the NSWRL.com.au NSW Cup Team of the Year for 2010.

1. Michael Lett (Shellharbour Dragons)
2. Kevin Naiqama (Central Coast Centurions)
3. Tuu Maori (Newtown Jets)
4. Jamie Simpson (North Sydney Bears) (VC)
5. Rhys Pritchard (Western Suburbs Magpies)
6. Gareth Widdop (Melbourne Storm)
7. Pita Godinet (Auckland Vulcans)
8. David Gower (Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers)
9. Anthony Mitchell (Wentworthville Magpies)
10. Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm)
11. Matthew Ryan (Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers)
12. Daniel Harrison (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
13. Jared Farlow (Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers) ©

14. Josh Reynolds (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
15. Daniel Rauicava (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
16. Tim Browne (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
17. Joel Edwards (Central Coast Centurions)
18th Man. Lancen Joudo (Cronulla Sharks)

Coach – Paul Fletcher

There it is… Now let’s look at each position a little closer and also hand out some honourable mentions to those who were perhaps a little unlucky to miss out, and trust me there is plenty of them which once again probably speaks volumes about the depth of talent in the NSW Cup.

FULLBACK - Michael Lett

Just about the first bloke picked, an amazing talent with speed to burn and an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time in both attack and defence. Our main point of contention was whether or not he was best suited at the back or on a wing spot. We felt he was best served at the back in this side.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Sean Meaney, Trent Cutler and Johnny Aranaga

WINGERS – Kevin Naiqama & Rhys Pritchard

Two of the absolute flyers in the NSW Cup. Would love to see them both in a sprint over 100m. Naiqama had a standout year that saw him rewarded with his NRL debut last week while and he also scored a vital try late in the NSW Residents victory over QLD while Pritchard has been one of Wests best all year. Pritchard also has the durability to fill in at the back and an NRL call up won’t be far away for him either.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Zoram Watene, Sam Latu, Troy Savage and Curtis Johnston

CENTRES – Tu’u Maori & Jamie Simpson

Another really tough position for selectors but Tu’u Maori has been really consistent for the Jets all season long in a side that seen its fair share of disruptions in the backs, Maori would also handle our goal kicking duties while Jamie Simpson is an amazing leader on the park for the Bears and despite their troubles this season he has continued to give his all each and every week and continues to play well above his size in the middle third of the park. Simpson serves as our sides Vice-Captain.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Byron Fruean, Jonathon Wright, Simon Williams, Andrew Everingham and Sione Lousi

FIVE-EIGHTH – Gareth Widdop

The main debate for selectors here was whether or not to class Widdop as 5/8 or fullback, ultimately we settled on 5/8, a position he has played for his club, the NSW Residents and also his Country this year. A rare talent and a real competitor. Certain to star for the Storm in the NRL on a regular basis in 2011 and beyond so we should enjoy his talents in the NSW Cup while we still have the opportunity.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Tom Humble, Ben Falcone and Darren Nicholls

HALFBACK – Pita Godinet

Potentially the most contentious selection and also the selector’s most arduous one given the wealth of talent in this position. The competitions most prolific try scorer when you factor in a month or so missed due to a substantial injury. There is little doubt the Vulcans would probably be in the finals had Godinet not gotten injured and his blinding pace in and around the rucks makes him potentially the NSW Cup’s best kept secret. A star in the making and would already be a household name if he played for a Bulldogs or a Tigers. Has an uncanny resemblance on the park to Ben Barba and will most likely end up in the NRL like him too.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Craig Trindall, Blake Lazarus, Nathan Waters and Scott Porter

PROPS – David Gower & Jesse Bromwich

There isn’t much left to be said about David Gower that has not already been said. A thorough professional in everything that he does and would be one of the first chosen in most teams, well except Tim Sheens’ apparently, while Jesse Bromwich continues to play like a bloke ten years older than he is and like his Storm team mate in Widdop, appears to be being fast tracked into Bellamy’s squad for 2011.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Aaron Sweeney, Sione Kite, Andrew Pearn and Johnny Mannah

HOOKER – Anthony Mitchell

A real pocket rocket that appears to have gotten stronger and stronger as the season has progressed. This progression lead to his NRL debut a few weeks ago and he didn’t look out of place there either. His impetus out of dummy half may prove to be Wenty’s wildcard as they head into the finals series.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Ryan Carr, George Ndaira, Rory Kostjasyn and Alehana Mara

SECOND ROWERS – Matthew Ryan & Daniel Harrison

A couple of red-heads form our back-row and no real surprise that they play for the sides that finished on top of the table. This wasn’t an easy decision for selectors which is evident by the number of honourable mentions handed out below but uncompromising and workhorses are two descriptions that aptly describe these two tyros and Matty Ryan can also fill in two or three passes wider if required.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Aidan Guerra, Taniela Lasalo, Lee Te Maari, Marvin Filipo, Josh Davis, Brock Molan, Mike Afioga, Hep Cahill and Jesse Sene Lafao

LOCK – Jared Farlow

Packing down at the back of the scrum is quite possibly one of the NSW Cups most underrated players in Jared Farlow. A tackling machine that can also serve as a deputy to Mitchell at number nine if need be, Farlow is a no frills type player that will never let the bloke beside him down and for this reason we have selected him to Captain this side.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Jason Baitieri, Michael Greenfield and Jamie Sharkie

THE BENCH – Josh Reynolds, Daniel Rauicava, Tim Browne & Joel Edwards

A real Dogs flavor on our bench but that is no real surprise as they are the Minor Premiers and deserve to have a number of players in our team of the year. Reynolds capped off a brilliant season with a 38 point haul against the Storm and picked up the top point scorers gong in the process. He is the perfect utility player as he can fill in at 6, 7, and 9 or even in the back row. Daniel Rauicava gets the nod also due to his durability. His ability to play up forward or in the centres with equal affect made him a must have on our bench while the two props in Joel Edwards and Tim Browne have both been hard toilers for their respective clubs all year and are both deserving of filling a spot in our side.

Our 18th man in Lancen Joudo would also come into our squad as he can cover a number of positions much like a Josh Reynolds or a Daniel Rauicava and he was like many others, somewhat unfortunate not to gain a spot on his own merit in the first place.

COACH – Paul Fletcher

In a split decision, Paul Fletcher got the gig just ahead of Justin Holbrook. After lengthy debate it was eventually decided (and we say this with absolutely no disrespect to the Balmain Ryde-Eastwood players) that Fletcher’s achievement in taking the Tigers to equal competition leaders after 26 rounds was perhaps slightly more impressive than Holbrook’s given the cattle in the farm so to speak. Once again with all due respect we believe when you look at the two squads purely on paper, you could make a fairly solid argument that more would be expected from the Bulldogs squad than the Tigers, thus making his coaching achievements this season all the more satisfying.

Well there it is folks, a fine team and one that could challenge any side in the NRL on their day I would dare say.

Congratulations to all of our players selected and good luck to all of those in particular that are still in with a chance of winning the 2010 NSW Cup.

But with that said we now throw it open to you, the fan, once again. Where did we get it right? Where did we get it wrong? In all honesty we could have named three or four sides and still not pleased everyone but once again I believe that just speaks volumes of the quality of players in our competition and that must be a good thing… right?

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