Ballina centre Oliver Regan takes the ball forward against Tweed Coast in the NRRRL first grade grand final.
Ballina centre Oliver Regan takes the ball forward against Tweed Coast in the NRRRL first grade grand final. Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus

NRRRL team of the year: Who has made the cut?

SPORTS editor Mitchell Craig picks his Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League team of the year.

Fullback: Alex Grant (Ballina)

Alex Grant.
Alex Grant. Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus

Back to his best this season following career threatening back surgery in 2016 and still managed to play 14 games despite two stints with Tweed Seagulls in Queensland Cup.

Grant finished the NRRRL season with 13 tries and was the Seagulls best player in the grand final.

 

Wing: Jack Bishop (Murwillumbah)

Excitement machine and dominated out wide scoring 24 tries in the regular season.

He was the Mustangs main attacking weapon and would have to be the fastest player in the competition.

 

Wing: Rhys Riches (Ballina)

Rhys Riches.
Rhys Riches. Marc Stapelberg

Improved out of sight when he came back from the representative team and is already one of the best defensive wingers in the competition at 19-years-old.

Riches is not the fastest winger getting around but he has the ability to develop into a quality centre.

 

Centre: Oliver Regan (Ballina)

Learnt how to play centre after years of playing fullback at Queensland Cup level with Burleigh Bears and Redcliffe.

He switched positions with Grant after the early rounds and it helped bring out the best in both of them.

 

Centre: Matt Ashton (Mullumbimby)

Matt Ashton.
Matt Ashton. Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus

Started and finished the year at centre even though he preferred to spend more time at fullback where he scored the bulk of his 16 tries.

Blistering speed and edges out Mullumbimby teammate Michael Thomas for the centre spot after he was cut down mideason with a broken wrist.

 

Five-eighth: Matt Mulcahy (Mullumbimby)

Matt Mulcahy.
Matt Mulcahy. Wajan Watkins

Another Mullumbimby player that floated between positions but had the most impact back in the halves.

Mulcahy has one of the best passing games in the competition and set up most of the Giants tries in tandem with Roy Bell also impressing at halfback.

 

Halfback: Tahne Robinson (Tweed Coast)

Tahne Robinson.
Tahne Robinson. Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus

The key signing for Tweed Coast settled right in and helped delivered a premiership off the back of his slick skill set.

A strong kicking game created plenty of opportunities for his big outside back and finished the season with 14 tries of his own.

 

Front row: Luke Campbell (Tweed Coast)

Like a bull at a gate and finishes games with as much venom and determination in his runs that he had from the opening whistle.

Plenty of experience and plays like an older head despite still playing at Under-23 representative level this season.

 

Front row: Nick Morrissey (Casino)

Stepped up in a smaller pack this season and looks destined for bigger things after the way he played in the middle.

The Cougars go-forward was not the same when he wasn't on the field and it was obvious in the few games he missed.

 

Hooker: Andrew Battese (Ballina)

Andrew Battese.
Andrew Battese. Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus

Won a handful of awards at the NRRRL presentation night where he was named Player of the Year and also finished as highest point-scorer, most goals and second highest try-scorer.

So many talented hookers in the competition but Battese once again finishes ahead of the likes of Joe Besgrove, Paul O'Neill and Dan Willoughby.

 

Second row: Kyle Kennedy (Marist Brothers)

Emerged as one of the dominant forwards in the competition this year and was a leader at the Rams.

Kennedy also stoodout in the representative season and was selected in the NSW Country team.

 

Second row: Caleb Ziebell (Cudgen)

Another good year for the freakish talent finishing second in the Player of the Year points after winning the top award last season.

A groin injury ruled him out of the semi-finals and Cudgen went out the back door in straight sets without him.

 

Lock: Michael Dwane (Ballina)

Determined in everything he does and was a handful for opposition teams.

Showed his versatility earning a NSW Country jersey playing on the wing at Under-23 level.



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