A GROUP 10 Rugby League senior premiership may have eluded Bathurst Panthers this season, but there is no denying the wealth of talent at the club.
When Panthers announced the best and fairest winners for under 18s, league tag, first division and premier league on Friday night, not only were the victors stand outs for the Bathurst club, but on a group level as well.
“When you look at what the Group 10 standings were and who won our awards … pretty much one is a reflection of the other,” club president Dennis Comerford said.
The top award in premier league went to fullback Jeremy Gordon, the 2016 Group 10 player of the year, while playmaker Joey Bugg added the Panthers’ first division award to the Group title he was presented earlier this month.
“Jeremy, he played his strong, good football, it was well deserved this one. He was right up high in the Group 10 count this season as well,” Comerford said.
“When you consider that Joey probably missed half of the second half of the season as he was brought up into first grade and still won, it just goes to show how far ahead he was of the other players in reserve grade.
“He missed a lot of football in reserve grade at the end of the season and still won it and not only that, he won the Group 10 award as well.”
The league tag best and fairest award belonged to Monique Christie-Johnston, a player who also led the Western Rams side to second place in the Country Championships.
“It was a big achievement actually for her this season to be the first female captain-coach of a Western side to be runner-up in that competition,” Comerford said.
“For a female to do that in a male dominated sport and to go on and do what she has and win the best and fairest as well, it’s a fantastic achievement.”
After finishing as runner-up in the Group 10 under 18s vote count, it was no surprise that Adam Fearnley won Bathurst Panthers’ best and fairest for that grade.
He is a player Comerford thinks has a bright future in the sport.
“Adam, he’s got a lot of ability. With him playing under 18s there’s still a long way to go, but he’s obviously got it,” the president said.
“Next year he’ll be off to Penrith again, he’ll get the training down there to bring him on a fair bit.
“There is no doubt about it, once you get in the NRL system, even if you don’t make it to the top, you still come back a better player for it.”
Those four were not the only Panthers recognised on the evening.
League tag star Claire Woolmington was acknowledged for being the club’s leading try-scorer (35) and overall points scorer (140), while premier league centre Jye Barrow claimed the goal-kicking award with 53.