Cudgen Hornets second-rower Caleb Ziebell is Mitch's pick for Player of the Year.
Cudgen Hornets second-rower Caleb Ziebell is Mitch's pick for Player of the Year. Mike Donelly

BEST 13: Top players in the NRRRL this year

SPORTS editor Mitch Craig has picked his team of the year, plus he's dished out a few other awards:

Player of the year: Caleb Ziebell (Cudgen)

Rookie of the year: Tahne Robinson (Casino)

Fullback: Aaron Scells (Evans Head)

Did not miss a game this season and came within one vote of NRRRL player of the year honours. Smart utility who covers a number of positions from hooker to fullback.

Wing: Daryl Brooks (Murwillumbah)

Injury cut short his season in July but he was quickly becoming one of the best finishers in the NRRRL. Won a premiership in 2016 and has scored 15 tries in the top grade.

Wing: Ben O'Gorman (Cudgen)

Scored 21 tries and kicked 71 goals to be top point-scorer in the competition. Finished the season with 226 points to be 74 points clear of his next closest rival.

Centre: Michael Thomas (Ballina)

Very consistent and stood up in the big games against Cudgen in the finals. Scored 19 tries and created plenty of opportunities for his wingers.

Centre: Drew Lanston (Tweed Coast)

Does not receive the same amount of raps as his twin Guy Lanston but he was vital in getting the Raiders into the finals after his brother's season-ending leg injury. Versatile and played centre, five-eighth and fullback.

Five-eighth: Louis Earl (Mullumbimby)

Great set of hands and a slick passing game which creates opportunities for the players outside him. Would look good playing alongside Roy Bell next season.

Halfback: Tahne Robinson (Casino)

Teenage sensation with unlimited potential. He made a lot of opposition players nervous with his speed and footwork.

Front row: Dylan Montgomery (Ballina)

Returned from a biceps injury this season and Ballina were always going to be hard to beat with him on the field. Went down with the same injury but returned for a big finals charge.

Front row: Kobi Mills (Cudgen)

Tough customer with plenty of experience who added some extra grunt to the forward pack. Sneaks in just ahead of Cudgen front-row partner Simon Kelly who is still a very handy player.

Hooker: Andrew Battese (Ballina)

Bravely carried an ankle injury into the semi-finals and was clearly struggling considering he had to give up goal-kicking duties. All class and churns out big performances year after year.

Second row: Caleb Ziebell (Cudgen)

Special effort to pick up official NRRRL man-of-the-match honours in a losing grand final. A rare talent and the best forward and player in the competition this year.

Second row: Kalani Hensby (Tweed Coast)

Runs the ball hard with great footwork and club officials believe he could end up on the Titans radar. Still young, so don't rule him out of the NRL.

Lock: Jack Durheim (Marist Brothers)

Skilful lock and one of the fittest players in the competition. Durheim took on a co-captain role this season and never has a bad game at the Rams.

OTHER AWARDS:

Coach of the year: Mick Foster (Ballina)

Took a side who missed semi-finals last season and got them to a premiership in his first year of coaching in the top grade.

Foster had a handy team but made sure he got the Seagulls firing at the business end of the season and without its two best players in the lead-up to semi-finals.

Club of the year: Marist Brothers

All four grades made semi-finals this season with reserve grade winning the premiership undefeated while the women's league tag team reached the grand final.

Brothers also had plenty to contend with off the field after the Lismore floods in April.

The club was forced to repair and operate the damaged Crozier Field facilities largely by its own doing.



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