A STUNNING debut season by flanker Ryan Brownlie has seen him claim the Dawson Valley Drovers' player of the year at the club's presentation night at the Theodore Hotel at the weekend.
The 18-year-old Theodore resident told Central Telegraph he was “pretty excited” to be awarded the club's top gong.
Brownlie, who played school rugby for a Gold Coast school taking on Brisbane and glitter strip school teams, was a modest winner.
“I thought I played all right - I'm not one to really rate myself,” Brownlie said.
“I was shocked but happy.”
The teenager, who works on his parents' cotton farm, said he planned to lace up the boots for the Drovers next season if he was still in the area.
Brownlie said he could see the club, which struggled for wins in this year's Central Queensland Rugby Union (CQRU) competition, climbing up the ladder in coming seasons.
“I think good results are coming - we're building up to it,” the flanker said.
Drovers coach Angus Peacocke heaped praise on Brownlie.
“In my opinion, there was not a better openside flanker playing rugby in Central Queensland this year,” Peacocke said. “If you added up his tackles, metres gained and turnovers, I can't see anyone coming close.
“What's more impressive is that he was beating opposition players to the ball when our back line wasn't firing or the team was going backwards, that means he was covering a longer distance in a shorter time, which is pretty impressive,” the coach said.
“While he is the sort of talent that could shine when others around him weren't, his best football was at the end of the year when the whole team started to win a few games and find its rhythm.
“When Brownlie combined with our equally good blindside flanker, Stephen Priddle, they were an awesome combination.”
Brownlie, who played rugby league as a junior in primary school, switched to rugby in high school.
“It's more physical - not one-on-one and more full-on than league,” the teen said.
Club president Mike Austin said players also voted for the recipients of the Adam Schulz memorial trophies for Players' Player in each grade.
“Inspirational back Kirk Anderson won it in A Grade, in supposedly his last season, and 18-year-old Tom Nobbs won by one vote from Nick Ein in reserve grade.”
Player/reserve grade coach, Errol Mellor, 43, won clubperson of the year for his work in mentoring young players, playing injured, coaching reserve grade, and never missing training or games.
Other award winners: Reserve Grade Best and Fairest - Tom Nobbs; Reserve Grade Best Forward - Nick Ein; Reserve Grade Best Back - Alex Raguse; Reserve Grade Most Improved - Stuart Johnstone; Best Emerging Player - Owen Moore; Coach's Award - Steve Priddle.Stars of the season Drovers A grade awards Player of the year - Ryan Brownlie Best and Fairest - Steve Priddle Best Forward - Ryan Brownlie Best Back - Mitch McDouall Most Improved - Ross Sparke Players Player - Kirk Anderson
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