Six locals a chance for top award

By Steve Spinks

Six local players are in the running for the inaugural Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League Player of the Year award.

With only one round left before voting closes, the six are all in with a good chance of claiming the major prize.

Heading the list are Marist Brothers duo Graham Smallwood and Simon Andrews.

Smallwood has been the find of the year after joining the Brethren after moving to Lismore from Wee Waa.

The hard-running centre went on to play for Northern Rivers.

He is also among the top tryscorers of the competition.

Andrews, a prop, has been on the fringes of the Brethren's first-grade side for two seasons.

However, this year his form demanded a place and he hasn't let coach Craig Hodges down.

He also turned out for Northern Rivers.

Mullumbimby halfback Adrian Browning has been a leading light at the Giants.

His physical game is amazing considering he's not the biggest man running around in the competition.

Browning's team-mate and Mullumbimby centre Paul Latta is also a chance of capturing the inaugural NRRRL Player of the Year award.

The former Gold Coast NRL player won the predecessor to the award, the Group One Player of the Year, in 2002.

Casino prop Chris McGrath is also in the hunt and he has roared up the table in recent weeks since the Cougars made a late season resurgence.

The hard-working prop has been among Casino's best players for the past few seasons.

Ballina's Matt Temby may also snare the award.

Temby has excelled since switching from hooker to halfback this season.

He has been one of the reasons the Seagulls will approach the finals with confidence.

Others in the top 12 are Lower Clarence duo Jason Wilkinson and Luke Mapperson, South Grafton's man mountain Xavier Sullivan, Cudgen flyer Craig Thurston, Tweed Seagulls' five-eighth Paul Rolls and Murwillumbah prop Steve Kirkham.

The Player of the Year will be announced at the NRRRL presentation night at the Lismore Workers Club on September 9.

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