The Daily Examiner sports editor Moose Elkerton put together the top performers of 2018 to compile the Group 2 Rugby League Team of the Year.
The Daily Examiner sports editor Moose Elkerton put together the top performers of 2018 to compile the Group 2 Rugby League Team of the Year.

TEAM OF THE YEAR: Group 2's best players of 2018

RUGBY LEAGUE: With the Group 2 grand final on the horizon, The Daily Examiner sports editor Moose Elkerton has dissected the season and revealed his first grade team of the season.

From young tearaways to experienced heads, the team of the season finds a balance between raw ability and football smarts, a necessity for any side.

FULLBACK

 

Daneil Donovan of the Coffs Harbour Comets is stopped by Sawtell Panthers forward Tyson Wicks. Group 2 rugby league 28 May 2017 Rex Hardaker Oval
Daneil Donovan of the Coffs Harbour Comets is stopped by Sawtell Panthers forward Tyson Wicks. Group 2 rugby league 28 May 2017 Rex Hardaker Oval Brad Greenshields

Daniel Donovan, Macksville

Having made the switch to the Sea Eagles this season, the classy fullback has been a catalyst for their strong run home to the Group 2 grand final. Donovan has spent most of the season playing for Macksville reserves and backing up in the first grade squad, proving his loyalty to the blue and whites. He is explosive off the mark, and proves elusive to stop.

Honourable Mention: Damian Dumas, Sawtell

WINGERS

 

South Grafton Rebels winger Anthony Skinner in the open against the Coffs Harbour Comets. Group 2 rugby league 26 March 2017 Geoff King Motors Park
South Grafton Rebels winger Anthony Skinner in the open against the Coffs Harbour Comets. Group 2 rugby league 26 March 2017 Geoff King Motors Park Brad Greenshields

Ant Skinner, South Grafton

While it might have been a tough season for the Rebels with not a lot of consistency, if there was one thing you could bank on it was that Skinner would give it his all. While his try-scoring ability, leading the side with 11, was invaluable, it was the extra efforts of Skinner that proved the difference.

 

A break for winger Liam Dunn led to the Axemen's first try during the Group 2 first grade clash between Grafton Ghosts and Orara Valley Axemen at Frank McGuren Field.
A break for winger Liam Dunn led to the Axemen's first try during the Group 2 first grade clash between Grafton Ghosts and Orara Valley Axemen at Frank McGuren Field. Matthew Elkerton

Liam Dunn, Orara Valley

If they made Group 2 playing cards, Dunn's speed rating would be at max level. The Axemen flyer has been a breakout sensation this season, utilising his blinding pace on the right edge to outstrip plenty of opponents to the tryline. He finished the year with a bag full of tries, and add to that his impressive goal kicking, he was a key cog to the Axemen's success in 2018.

Honourable Mention: Joel Moss

CENTRES

 

Coffs Harbour centre Peter Uikelotu leads a line break against Grafton.
Coffs Harbour centre Peter Uikelotu leads a line break against Grafton. Greg White

Peter Uikelotu, Coffs

The Polynesian flyer is proof that there is no substitute to experience. A champion fullback, Uikelotu has been far from out of place on the left edge this season, and has shown his ability to tear defensive sides into ribbons. Will be key for them in the decider.

 

Grafton Ghosts centre Dylan Collett scores a try against the Coffs Harbour Comets last season.
Grafton Ghosts centre Dylan Collett scores a try against the Coffs Harbour Comets last season. Keagan Elder

Dylan Collett, Grafton

He spent half the year on the sidelines and still forced his selection due to his raw talent with the ball in hand. Collett is a strike weapon for the minor premiers, crossing the try line an impressive 19 times from only 10 games.

Honourable Mention: Austin Cooper

FIVE-EIGHTH

 

Comets five-eighth Simon Brittain-Snowden shapes to pass outside during the Group 2 first grade Round 10 clash between South Grafton Rebels and Coffs Harbour Comets.
Comets five-eighth Simon Brittain-Snowden shapes to pass outside during the Group 2 first grade Round 10 clash between South Grafton Rebels and Coffs Harbour Comets. Matthew Elkerton

Simon Britain-Snowden, Coffs

The Comets playmaker has been the excitement package of the season. The flashy five-eighth has been instrumental in the Comets' charge to the grand final, working off the back of an impressive forward pack. Snowden is not afraid to chance his arm, and his unpredictable nature has been a nightmare for defenders.

Honourable Mentions: Cameron Blair

HALFBACK

 

Sawtell halfback Zac O'Brien during the Group 2 first grade second round clash between Grafton Ghosts and Sawtell Panthers at Frank McGuren Field.
Sawtell halfback Zac O'Brien during the Group 2 first grade second round clash between Grafton Ghosts and Sawtell Panthers at Frank McGuren Field. Matthew Elkerton

Zachary O'Brien, Sawtell

Having lost former leader Lockie Miller to rugby sevens before the season kicked off, Sawtell fans had every right to be nervous about the impending season. But those nerves were quickly quashed by O'Brien. The skilful halfback has taken the Panthers by the horns this season, proving the key link between their explosive middle third and lethal finishers on the flanks.

Honourable Mention: Jake Frame

PROPS

 

Matt Cheeseman of the Coffs Harbour Comets against the Orara Valley Axemen. Group 2 rugby league Ken Orr Memorial Shield 13 May 2018 Geoff King Motors park Photo: Brad Greenshields
Matt Cheeseman of the Coffs Harbour Comets against the Orara Valley Axemen. Group 2 rugby league Ken Orr Memorial Shield 13 May 2018 Geoff King Motors park Photo: Brad Greenshields Brad Greenshields

Matt Cheeseman, Coffs

If the Comets can thank only one man for being in the grand final, it's Cheeseman. The hard-running, hard-hitting forward has overpowered all opposition this season. Also has a handy mean streak which is not lost in rugby league. He was unstoppable in the side's clean run through finals. Cheeseman will also be awarded the Rex Hardaker Memorial Award for Player of the Season in Group 2.

 

Grafton's Adam Slater let's out a war cry during the Group 2 first grade preliminary final between Grafton Ghosts and Macksville Sea Eagles at Frank McGuren Field.
Grafton's Adam Slater let's out a war cry during the Group 2 first grade preliminary final between Grafton Ghosts and Macksville Sea Eagles at Frank McGuren Field. Matthew Elkerton

Adam Slater, Grafton

The Ghosts' royal influence has been nothing short of sensational this season - that is when he is not having near-death experiences with the harsh Aussie wildlife. Has plenty of heart and always willing to put his hand up for work on the paddock. Watch out for the warrior's cry on the charge.

Honourable Mention: Cain Bunt

DUMMY-HALF

 

Todd Cameron tries to burst through a hole during the Group 2 first grade preliminary final between Grafton Ghosts and Macksville Sea Eagles at Frank McGuren Field.
Todd Cameron tries to burst through a hole during the Group 2 first grade preliminary final between Grafton Ghosts and Macksville Sea Eagles at Frank McGuren Field. Matthew Elkerton

Todd Cameron, Grafton

Out of all the positions in this side, this was the easiest one to pick by far. The Ghosts' general was again at his consistent best this season, proving a menace for opposition big men around the ruck. His ability to get out of dummy-half on the front foot, kept the Grafton side rolling through the forwards and dominating the middle of the field.

Honourable Mention: Rhys Walters

BACK-ROW

 

Brad Southan of the Macksville Sea Eagles is tackled against the Orara Valley Axemen. Group 2 rugby league 15 April 2018 Coramba Sportsground
Brad Southan of the Macksville Sea Eagles is tackled against the Orara Valley Axemen. Group 2 rugby league 15 April 2018 Coramba Sportsground Brad Greenshields

Brad Southan, Macksville

The Sea Eagles' captain has been the backbone of their fairytale run from fifth to the grand final. Uncompromising in both attack and defence, it has been Southan's consistency at the back end of the season that has led to Danny Wicks labelling the Sea Eagles pack as one of the best in Group 2.

 

Danny Wicks charges toward the goal line during the Group 2 first grade preliminary final between Grafton Ghosts and Macksville Sea Eagles at Frank McGuren Field.
Danny Wicks charges toward the goal line during the Group 2 first grade preliminary final between Grafton Ghosts and Macksville Sea Eagles at Frank McGuren Field. Matthew Elkerton

Danny Wicks (c), Grafton

Speaking of Wicks, the former Parramatta Eels star had been hampered by a groin injury throughout the middle of the season, but it did not affect his output on the field. He has the ability to break open the game from nowhere, and his service on the left edge for the Ghosts was invaluable. He gets captaincy of this side.

 

Comets lock Steve Spencer aims to pass before the line during the Group 2 major semi-final between Grafton Ghosts and Coffs Harbour Comets at Frank McGuren Field.
Comets lock Steve Spencer aims to pass before the line during the Group 2 major semi-final between Grafton Ghosts and Coffs Harbour Comets at Frank McGuren Field. Matthew Elkerton

Steve Spencer, Coffs Harbour

Another of the older generation, Spencer followed coach Costin to Coffs Harbour this season and has lifted his game to another level to help the side reach the grand final. The former Sawtell captain-coach showed his leadership among a top-tier pack,while also displaying the finer points of his game playing as a first receiver for most of the season. He will be integral in the grand final.

Honourable Mention: Matt Muller



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