Casino Cougars second-rower Damien Benn has been named Northern Star Player of the Year by sports editor Mitchell Craig.
Casino Cougars second-rower Damien Benn has been named Northern Star Player of the Year by sports editor Mitchell Craig. Brian Olive

Our pick of NRRRL's players

NORTHERN Star sports editor Mitchell Craig names his Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League team of the year and other individual awards.

Player of the year: Damien Benn (Casino)

The heart and soul of the Casino team and they could not have made it to the preliminary final without him.

Almost impossible to bring down without drawing in multiple defenders and one of the hardest hitters in the competition.

Other contenders: Jack Durheim (Marist Brothers), Alwyn Roberts (Northern United), Caleb Ziebell (Cudgen)

Most improved: Toby McIntosh (Murwillumbah)

Moved to fullback from the wing and had his best year in the competition.

Played injured in the grand final and won the official NRRRL Player of the Year award ahead of Josh Toole and Caleb Ziebell.

Other contenders: Theo Hippi (Northern United), Jone Macilai (Murwillumbah), Te Ate Jackson (Marist Brothers)

Best new talent: Josh Toole (Evans Head)

Looked classy from his first game of the season and was a handy addition at the Bombers.

Toole had previously played at Bourke and was one of the most skilful in the NRRRL this year.

Other contenders: Luke Dumas (Cudgen), Sio Alefosio (Marist Brothers), Cory McGrady (Northern United)

Other awards

Player of the finals: Wayde Kelly (Murwillumbah)

Representative player of the year: Zac Beecher (Ballina)

Captain of the year: Sam O'Dea (Murwillumbah)

Coach of the year: Pat Rosser (Cudgen)

Rookie of the year: Dion Bianchetti (Kyogle)

Toughest player: Cameron Mulcahy (Kyogle)

Most exciting player to watch: Corey Torrens (Casino)

Biggest return to the competition: Shannon Walker (Kyogle)

Team of the year

Fullback: Jake Sands (Cudgen)

Moved to his preferred position at fullback after playing the previous season in the halves at Cudgen.

He scored 15 tries and was the top pointscorer in the competition rounds.

Winger: Bill King (Northern United)

Injured early in the year and struggled to find the tryline after a big 2015 in the centres. Found a home on the wing and was back to his best during the second half of the season.

Winger: Guy Lanston (Tweed Coast)

Versatile player who can play centre, fullback or wing.

Played wing for Northern Rivers at the NSW Country Championships and was selected in the NSW Country Bulls team.

Centre: Josh Toole (Evans Head)

Fancy footwork and almost impossible to bring down when he finds space close to the line.

Centre: Anthony Colman

The best player at Ballina this season and was a workhorse from the opening game.

Five-eighth: Sam O'Dea (Murwillumbah)

Moved to five-eighth for the second half of the season and helped steer Murwillumbah to a premiership.

Halfback: Cory McGrady (Northern United)

A new addition at Northern United and his kicking game was outstanding.

McGrady pulled off some freakish plays during games that only the most talented can do.

Prop: Caleb Ziebell (Cudgen)

Tall front-rower with a great offload and helped Cudgen to a grand final off the back of some of his barnstorming charges.

Prop: Tim Tregidgo (Evans Head)

Tough customer who has been around for a long time now.

Passionate player and has been tireless in his efforts at the Bombers in recent years.

Hooker: Paul O'Neill (Marist Brothers)

Never has a bad game and gets through plenty of work at the Rams.

O'Neill would lead the tackle count most weeks and is one of the most hard-working players in NRRRL.

Second-row: Damien Benn (Casino)

Big effort this season and led by example as captain.

Filled in at front-row some weeks and is one of the toughest competitors on the field.

Second-row: Alwyn Roberts (Northern United)

Widely regarded as one of the best players in the competition and was up there again.

Lock: Jack Durheim (Marist Brothers)

His best season back after a stint on the Gold Coast.

Durheim would be the most talented forward in the competition on skill and backed it up with his workrate.

Bench: Theo Hippi (Northern United)

Secret weapon off bench before eventually forcing his way into the starting side.

Bench: Myles Donnelly (Cudgen)

Another worker who tackles and makes plenty of metres up the middle of the field.

Bench: Remi Vignau (Murwillumbah)

Big front-rower who lifts his teammates and took no prisoners with his aggressive style.

Bench: Jone Macilai (Murwillumbah)

Created a lot of opportunities with his offloads this season and was always among the Mustangs best.

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