There’s a mouth-watering, all-Orange halves pairing, a ridiculous forward pack led by the newly-crowed player of the year and a scintillating set of outside backs any country coach would do horrible, horrible things to have at his disposal.
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Ladies and gentleman, as Group 10 Rugby League’s biggest day fast-approaches sports reporters Matt Findlay and Nick McGrath have cast their eyes over the 2017 season and now present to you, the Central Western Daily sports desk’s team of the year.
After winning last year’s player of the year gong, Gordon brought his 2016 form into this year – and then some.
Simply, without him, Panthers would’ve been half the team they were in 2017.
Need another indication of how good he was?
For us, he’s pushed CYMS custodian Ben McAlpine out of the No.1 jersey – ‘nuff said.
Satterthwaite was an absolute revelation for CYMS on the wing this year, scoring 15 tries in the regular season including a haul of five against Cowra.
But for us, his real value comes from the work he does in the middle, during CYMS’ exit sets.
He’s happily gone looking for work all season, constantly getting his side on the front foot. He can seriously fly too, his work in the air is breathtaking.
A Western Rams rep, his captain-coach Luke Branighan branded him “one of the best players in the competition”.
That’s a fair rap, one we’re happy to back up from what we saw, and heard, of Brien this year.
Defensively sound and simply superb with ball in hand, he’s a no-brainer in the three-quarter line.
He scored almost 100 more points than anyone else this season and … you know what?
Even if we have named him out of position, we don’t need to bother.
It’s Ben McAlpine, you can’t leave him out.
Came back to league from the 15-man code, but proved he hasn’t lost it.
Slotted into CYMS’ dangerous backline with ease and, in fact, he looked like he’s been playing outside the likes of Mick Sullivan and Dom Maley for years.
His speed, his elusiveness, that dazzling smile and infectious laugh, well, we just love this bloke.
The most influential player in the group this year, of all the tries Hawks scored in 2017 Heta had a hand in most of them.
The way he ran this year was unbelievable, his kicking game just as good.
Hawks wouldn’t have gone anywhere near the finals without him, as a result, he was impossible to leave out, despite Luke Branighan’s heroics in Oberon.
For anyone who saw Sullivan circa 2010 and 2011 this might be hard to believe, but we think this has been his best season in CYMS’ colours.
Winding back the clock, Sullivan was continually been his side’s best as it stormed to a third straight home grand final, dishing up try assists and scoring his own seemingly at will.
There’s not a half in this competition that rivals him when he’s on, and he’s been on in 2017, in a massive way.
He’s the newly-crowned player of the year, an award which he won easily.
We don’t need to justify this selection, he’s first-picked.
Let’s move on.
He’s everything you want from a dummy-half and has as much fire in his belly as one of Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons.
He was superb again in 2017, kick-starting Mudgee’s attacking play and proving his running game is one of, if not the best in the competition.
Has long been one of the premier props in Group 10 – very close to it in Western, too – and was behind only Bamford in the list of 2017’s best bookends.
Uncontainable with the ball and huge defensively again, Seager led Panthers’ pack and did so impeccably.
Outside Heta, easily Hawks’ best-performed recruit this season.
Yes, that includes Sione Tongia, who was unlucky to miss out on this side.
He’s been Hawks’ unsung hero this year, after representing Group 10 early in the season.
With people finally taking notice of lock Nathan Potts McKellar’s flown under the radar somewhat, but he was consistently among the two blues’ best.
He combines his hard, straight, Martin Lang-style hit-ups with bone-jarring defence, and does it spectacularly.
A game-breaker, an X-factor … call him whatever you want Oloapu is just something else.
He played prop before switching out the centres and then shifting to Oberon’s bench for impact, but for us, he needs to start – as he will on Sunday.
He added a different dynamic to the Tigers this year and helped take them to another level in their remarkable run to the decider.
An out-and-out tearaway that has relished the physicality in Group 10, after coming across from Gulgong.
He essentially led Mudgee’s pack throughout 2017, one that was without big guns Jack Afamasaga, Todd Munn and Hamish Bryant for the bulk of the year.
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