Bulldogs Dominate NSWRL Team of the Year
Friday 30 September 2011 2:06 PM
Just two days out from the NSW Cup Grand Final and Bulldogs players have dominated NSWRL.com.au’s team of the year for 2011.
Four Bulldogs – Michael Lett, Ben Roberts, Josh Reynolds and Marty Taupau – were named in the 17, announced Friday, while Trent Cutler was named 18th man.
The four selections, plus Cutler as 18th, tops Sunday’s opponents the Auckland Vulcans by one (three players plus coach Ritchie Blackmore), with the North Sydney Bears also earning three selections.
The Bulldogs and Vulcans face off for the 2011 NSW Cup title on Grand Final Day at ANZ Stadium, kicking off at 12.05pm.
Reproduced courtesy of www.nswrl.com.au
Well folks this is it! It is finally time to announce the NSWRL.com.au NSW Cup Team of the Year (TOTY) for 2011.
Firstly we would like to start by thanking you all for your assistance and feedback via your comments on NSWRL.com.au and also via twitter @NSWRL. 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 NSWRL.com.au Weekend Game-Cast right throughout the 2011 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 2012.
In providing this service, both Brad and Jamie have each attended at least one NSW Cup match per weekend right throughout the 2011 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 have tabled the following criteria in regards to being eligible for selection. The main point for these criteria is to attempt to name the fairest and best side possible in regards to games played and overall exposure to the NSW Cup.
1) To be considered eligible for the TOTY a player must have played a minimum of 10 matches for their club/clubs during the 2011 NSW Cup season.
2) A player will only be considered eligible for selection in the position that he has played the majority of his matches in during the 2011 NSW Cup season.
3) Any player who has served more than weeks suspension in total during the 2011 NSW Cup season will not be considered eligible for selection.
Ok so 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 2011.
1. Glen Fisiiahi (Auckland Vulcans)
2. Curtis Johnston (North Sydney Bears)
3. Troy Savage (Wentworthville Magpies)
4. Ricky Leutele (Cronulla Sharks)
5. Michael Lett (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
6. Ben Roberts (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
7. Josh Reynolds (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
8. James Gavet (Auckland Vulcans)
9. Beau Falloon (North Sydney Bears) [vc]
10. Khalid Deeb (Newtown Jets) [c]
11. Ahmad Ellaz (Newtown Jets)
12. David Harris (Western Suburbs Magpies)
13. Darcy Lussick (Manly Sea Eagles)
14. Pita Godinet (Auckland Vulcans)
15. George Burgess (North Sydney Bears)
16. Martin Taupau (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
17. Matthew Ryan (Balmain Tigers/Wentworthville Magpies)
18th Man. Trent Cutler (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Coach – Ritchie Blackmore (Auckland Vulcans)
And there it is… Now let’s look at each position a little closer and also point out the player/players that were ‘Dead-set unlucky’ and also hand out some honourable mentions to those who were thereabouts, and trust me there is plenty of them which once again probably speaks volumes about the depth of talent in the NSW Cup.
FULLBACK - Glen Fisiiahi
Won’t lie, the fullback position was certainly one of the more contentious among the panel but we finally settled on the man they call the ‘Flying Fish’. Has a huge career ahead of him and it wouldn’t surprise us if he is a mainstay in the Kiwi national team set up for the next decade or so.
DEAD-SET UNLUCKY – Peter Mata’utai
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Isaac Gordon and Jake Mullaney
WINGERS – Michael Lett and Curtis Johnston
Another vintage year for wingers in the NSW Cup but it was very hard to go past the two top tryscorers for the respective wing spots. Lett is one of four players returning from the 2010 team of the year however last year he was selected at fullback, but his subsequent move to the Dogs from Shellharbour saw him successfully move to the flank and he has never looked back. Johnston is a very different winger to Lett but while he doesn’t have the dash of Lett he more than makes up for it with his brute strength close to the line and also his ability to climb high for the spectacular play.
DEAD-SET UNLUCKY – Nathan Stapleton
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Michael Oldfield, Gus Aiga and Sam Latu
CENTRES – Troy Savage and Ricky Leutele
Another really tough position for the selectors but ultimately we felt Savage and Leutele more than deserved their selections. Savage is another who has made the most of an off-season change of scenery and has been one of Wentworthville’s best all year while Leutele grabbed an NRL debut this season after impressing in the NSW Cup and his ability to seamlessly transfer between the centres and the backrow makes him a valuable asset for the Cronulla Sharks in any grade of football.
DEAD-SET UNLUCKY – Joel Moon
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Jonathon Wright, Dean Collis and Ryan Walker
FIVE-EIGHTH – Ben Roberts
Have to give Ben Roberts a wrap… A kiwi international and a player with an abundance of talent and NRL experience that has found himself playing in the NSW Cup for most of the season. Regardless of the reasons for this sudden fall from grace, one must tip their hat to Roberts for the way he has carried himself as many others in his situation may have not done the same. Roberts is only 80 minutes away from steering the Bulldogs to a third successive NSW Cup title and it would be just reward before he leaves the club and heads across to the Eels.
DEAD-SET UNLUCKY – Jon Ford
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Daniel Mortimer and Isaac John
HALFBACK – Josh Reynolds
Another player who made this side last year and his career has certainly kicked on in 2011. Reynolds has been tutored in the hooking role at times in 2011 and this was mainly with a view to covering for the loss of Michael Ennis in first grade, but those that have seen him play know that he excels in the seven jumper and his combination with Roberts has yielded plenty of joy for the Dogs in the 2011 season.
DEAD-SET UNLUCKY – Ryan Stig
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Tim Smith and Nathan Waters
PROPS – Khalid Deeb and James Gavet
Every side needs a Khalid Deeb, uncompromising, no nonsense and tough as teak. Deeb has also been named as the captain of the 2011 NSW Cup TOTY. Gavet is a GUN! If Gavet played for an Australian side and was exposed to the east coast media he would be a household name but due to the strength in the Warriors pack at present he is being forced to bide his time with the Vulcans. We doubt this will be the case for much longer.
DEAD-SET UNLUCKY – Siosaia Vave
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – James Cunningham, Dayne Weston, Zane Tetevano, Chris Armit and Pele Peletelese
HOOKER – Beau Falloon
A great buy for the Gold Coast Titans and he will be sorely missed by the Bears in 2012. Another who should have played more first grade than he has but obviously with Isaac Luke ahead of him at the Rabbitohs, Falloon saw an opportunity up north and has taken it. He has also been named as Khalid Deeb’s deputy.
DEAD-SET UNLUCKY – Alehana Mara
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – George Ndaira and Terence Seu Seu
SECOND ROWERS – Ahmad Ellaz and David Harris
Easily the hardest position in regards to selection with a host of talent in this position running around in the 2011 season. Ultimately we settled on two players who may not be as well known as some of the more high profile back-rowers running around but in our eyes were certainly two of the best. Harris is a workhorse and with no disrespect meant to the Western Suburbs Magpies club, I would be confident in saying that if he were playing for a club in the top four that he would be much better known. Ellaz is a player who was at the Sharks and played NYC there but when he was not re-signed he simply rocked up to Henson Park for a trial and he has never looked back. Ellaz has stood out in a forward pack that includes Takairangi, Mataka and Barrett… Enough said.
DEAD-SET UNLUCKY – Jake Foster
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Robbie Rochow, Brad Takairangi, Gary Warburton and Blake Judd
LOCK – Darcy Lussick
A young man who is set to cap off his rookie season with a Grand Final appearance (NRL) this Sunday. He hits hard, he runs hard and has a big future ahead of him. Lussick’s trademark moment came early on in the season against the Bulldogs when he crossed for a staggering four tries! The Bulldogs finished the season with the best defence and on occasions didn’t even allow four tries in a game, much less by an individual player.
DEAD-SET UNLUCKY – Grant Millington
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Steve Southern and Jesse Sene Lefao
THE BENCH – Pita Godinet, George Burgess, Martin Taupau and Matthew Ryan
Pita Godinet is another who returns to the NSW Cup TOTY after starting at halfback in 2010. Interestingly enough both he and Josh Reynolds have just swapped from their respective positions in 2010. Godinet can easily fill in at fullback, halfback or hooker and has the ability to single handedly change a match down the stretch. Two young guns in Martin Taupau and George Burgess claim our two bench spots for the props. Burgess has had a stellar year for the Bears and it must be remembered that George is still eligible for the NYC however it is clear to see the massive gains he has made playing against the more physically mature bodies in the NSW Cup. Taupau is a wrecking ball in attack for the Bulldogs and has clearly gained some valuable insight from the likes of Hodgson, Morrin and Paea in 2011. Matty Ryan rounds out the bench. Ryan is the fourth player to back up from the 2010 TOTY. His utility value cannot be undersold and is as clearly comfortable in the backrow or one or two passes wider in the centres.
Our 18th man in Trent Cutler is just an out and out professional. Cutler brought up his 200th game recently and has the ability to cover a number of positions within this squad if required.
COACH – Ritchie Blackmore
What an outstanding achievement by this first year coach. He has taken the Vulcans to not only their first ever finals series but is also a whisker away from claiming their maiden premiership. Blackmore’s ties to the Warriors organization has lead to a more fruitful relationship between the feeder club and their NRL affiliate, and this has certainly been reflected by the Vulcans results on the park.
DEAD-SET UNLUCKY – Leo Epifania
HONOURABLE MENTION – Justin Holbrook
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 2011 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? Leave your comments below or tell us on twitter @NSWRL using the #NSWCUPTOTY hashtag.