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Rugby League’s Best On Show

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Recently retired NRL player Nathan Friend, right, presented Cherbourg Hornets player Keith Gadd Jnr with the award for the most tries scored in the 2017 season (15) ... Nathan, who played hooker, joked that was more than he had scored in his whole NRL career

A special guest at the dinner was South Burnett Rugby League life member Percy Iszlaub who can remember playing against the great Frank Fisher

September 5, 2017

The best of South Burnett rugby league – past and present – was on show at the Wondai Town Hall on Saturday night for the annual presentation of awards.

The dinner was a break in tradition by the South Burnett Rugby League. In recent years the season presentations have been handed out at the end of each age group Grand Final.

Special guests at the dinner included members of the South Burnett Team of the Century, selected in 2008 as part of rugby league’s centenary celebrations in Australia.

The veteran players joined coaches and invited guests on stage to present awards and team medals to players.

Special guests were former Titans star Nathan Friend and Queensland and Australian player Chris Close.

“Tonight we salute the past, celebrate the present and inspire the future,” compere Darren Schmidt said.

“It is also a time to remember the legends of the game and hear from them their memories and stories from the past.”

Each of the Team of the Century members took the opportunity to speak on stage.

Cherbourg elder Aunty Lillian Gray spoke about her father, Frank Fisher, who was named in the Cherbourg, South Burnett, Wide Bay and Indigenous Teams of the Century.

Fisher was offered the opportunity to play in England in the 1930s but was refused permission by the State Government to leave the country because of his race.

“I had the honour of playing against one of the greatest players,” South Burnett Rugby League life member Percy Iszlaub said, describing Fisher.

“We will never know how good he really was.”

A message was sent to the dinner by Brisbane Broncos chairman – and former South Burnett journalist – Dennis Watt that he hoped that in the near future a medal for the Best Indigenous Player in the NRL would be awarded annually in honour of Fisher, who has been described by some people who saw him play as being the equal of Wally Lewis.

It’s been a big year for rugby league in the South Burnett, with two girls teams playing in the Sunshine Coast competition, an U18s boys team in the tough Toowoomba competition and Chinchilla playing in the U14s and U16s.

And it’s not over yet, with the Grand Finals in all grades to be played next Saturday at Wondai.

In the club championship, only five points separated the top four clubs, proving just how close the competitions have been.

The winner was the Nanango Stags, just one point ahead of Murgon.

In the senior competition, most tries were scored by Cherbourg’s Keith Gadd Jnr, and most goals kicked by Nanango’s Ashley Smallwood.

Special awards for their contribution to South Burnett rugby league were presented to CROW-FM sports commentator and former referee Bob Coleman and Nanango stalwart and former radio caller Barry Green.

Cherbourg Mayor Arnold Murray with special guest, former Australian and Queensland star Chris 'Choppy' Close, who played his first rugby league at Proston

Nanango took out the 2017 Club Championship, just one point ahead of Murgon ... Ryan Smith accepted the trophy from Nathan Friend on behalf of the Stags

The trophy for South Burnett Senior Player of the Year was presented to Keith Gadd Jnr by Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington, who sponsored the award

The award for 2017 South Burnett Junior Eagle was presented to Glen Fisher by South Burnett Rugby League president Greg Pomfret and Life Member Percy Iszlaub

Heather Field and South Burnett Team of the Century reserve Allan Trunks, from Wondai, with CROW-FM sports commentator - and former rugby league caller - Bob Coleman

Former Titans and Warriors player Nathan Friend with Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington and compere for the night, Darren Schmidt

South Burnett Team of the Century prop Bob Dennien and his wife Kay, from Hervey Bay

SB Team of the Century reserve Frank Malone with Team of the Century coach 'Skippy' Exelby

NRL Referee Development Officer Glen Richardson, NRL Game Development Officer Mitch Sargent and NRL Regional Manager for Central Queensland Dean Bosnich

Kathryn Smith, from Nanango; Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff, who sponsored one of the awards, and Glen Richardson, from the NRL

Players, referees and supporters from all South Burnett clubs and Chinchilla were present at the Rugby League dinner in Wondai Town Hall

* * *

Other Awards

U35kg Boys

Team members: Jack Dunlop, Slade Green, Rory Crumpton, Lawson Braithwaite, Ty Weekes, Harrison Braithwaite, Lachlan Greenwood, Bevan Hanna, Will Webber, Zach Harris, Clarence Cavanagh, Blake Dynevor, Darryl Gyemore, Fletcher Prain, Cameron Tipple

  • Dunlop Santa Gertrudis Encouragement Award – Fletcher Prain
  • Chosen to play for Country – Harrison Braithwaite, Clarry Cavanagh, Ty Weekes and Zach Harris
  • Best Back for South Burnett – Harrison Braithwaite
  • Most Improved for South Burnett – Ty Weekes
  • Best Forward for South Burnett – Zach Harris
  • South Burnett Player of Carnival – Harrison Braithwaite
  • Highest Try Scorer of Carnival – Harrison Braithwaite

South Burnett Team of the Century centre Phil Braithwaite and coach Jason Webber with members of the U35kg South Burnett boys team; Player of the Carnival Harrison Braithwaite is Phil's grandson

U43kg Boys

Team members: Dion Sandow-Walsh, Lacy Lee, Noel Walsh, Riley Dunlop, Sean Monk, Nathan Roderick, Kevin Langton, Tom Currin, Charlie Sippel, Matthew Kunde, Fletch Prendergast, Thomas Oram, Jacob Doctor, Matthew Bedesso, Eric Gyemore, Lachlan Ryan, Lachlan Brunjes

  • Chosen to play for Country – Thomas Oram, Fletch Prendergast, Kevin Langton, Jacob Doctor
  • Best Back for South Burnett – Kevin Langton
  • Most Improved for South Burnett – Lachlan Ryan
  • Best Forward for South Burnett – Jacob Doctor
  • South Burnett Player of Carnival – Jacob Doctor

South Burnett Under 43kg Boys team members

U13 Boys

Team members: Steven Walsh, Lloyd Langton, Zack Sheppard, Luke Washband, Lewis Thompson, Ryan Heness, Lachlan Zelinski, Matt Roth, Jeremy Hobbs, Ryan Johnson, Cody Gale, Jack Perrett, Bailey Cavanaugh, Joven Gyemore, Harrison Brown, Jeremy Webb, Andre Woltman, Jaycob Ahern

  • Best Back – Lachlan Zelinski
  • Best Forward – Ryan Johnson
  • Downer Most improved Player – Lewis Thompson
  • Representative Player of the Year – Ryan Johnson

South Burnett Under 13s Boys team members

U14 Girls

Keyonte Fisher-Millar, Aimee Barron, Janaya Rose, Charlotte Calvert, Hailee Hearfield, Sienna Norris, Traevonnah Fisher, Jenaya Simpson, Sophie Klein, Danielle McConnell, Lilly Millar, Brittni Soutter, Taylah Riddle, Harmony Hall

  • Best Back – Keyonte Fisher Millar
  • Best Forward – Sophie Klein
  • Downer Most improved Player – Aimee Barron
  • Gutsy Effort Awards – Hailee Hearfield, Lilly Millar, Britni Soutter, Danielle McConnell, Taylah Riddle, Janaya Rose.
  • 2017 South Burnett Player of the Year – Traevonnah Fisher

Aunty Lillian Gray, the daughter of SB Team of the Century member Frank Fisher, and coach Mark Reith with members of the Under 14s South Burnett Girls team

U14 Boys

  • Best Back – Christopher Kerkow
  • Best Forward – Harry Perrett
  • Downer Most Improved Player – Joshua Peterson
  • 2017 South Burnett Player of the Year – Glen Fisher

SB Team of the Century reserve David Moffett and coach Peter Cavanough with members of the U14s South Burnett Eagles 47th Battalion team

U15 Boys

Team members: Jake Larson, Jake Keating, Tyson Ellul, Joe Smith, Blake Shirley, Matthew Early, Patrick Gentry, Matthew Mladenovic, Jack Garrod, Angus Allery, Ryan Macasaet, Selwyn Cobbo, Edward Aubrey, Alfred Watcho, David Hopkins, Glenn Fisher, Stafford Sandow

  • Best Back – Jake Keating
  • Best Forward – Blake Shirley
  • Downer Most Improved Player – Jack Garrod
  • 2017 South Burnett Player of the Year – Alfred Watcho

Cherbourg Mayor Arnold Murray with members of the U15s Boys team

SBRL president Greg Pomfret with Bob Coleman who received a special award for his contributions to local rugby league

South Burnett Rugby League Girls Co-ordinator Mei-Lin Dean was presented with a gift for her work with the teams this year

U16 Girls

Team members: Mikaylah Dunn, Shakira Cherry, Lee-Marie Hennessy, Adrianna Clifford, Jamia Hopkins, Sheridan Clifford, Heather Sandow, Rhonda Walsh, Tenesha Trunks, Shaylee Soutter, Kaylynn Saltner, Tita Fatui, Grace Woodhead, Maddison Carstairs, Bryannah O’Flaherty,

  • Best Back – Maddison Carstairs
  • Best Forward – Lee Hennessy
  • Downer Most Improved Player – Shakira Cherry
  • 2017 South Burnett Player of the Year – Kaylynn Saltner

Members of the South Burnett U16s Girls team with Team of the Century reserve Alan Trunks and assistant coach Steve Sheather

U18 Girls

Chantelle Law, Shaylee Soutter (U16), Keisha Carstairs, Lee-Marie Hennessy (U16), Taylor Sykes, Bryannah O’Flaherty (U16), Ivana Fuller, Tita Fatui (U16), Haley Grattidge, Grace Woodhead (U16), Caitlin Elliott, Mikaylah Dunn (U16), Hannah Allcock

  • Best Back – Hannah Allcock
  • Best Forward – Hayley Grattidge
  • Downer Most Improved Player – Ivana Fuller
  • Gutsy Effort Awards – Shaylee Soutter, Lee-Marie Hennessy, Grace Woodhead, Mikaylah Dunn, Bryannah O’Flaherty, Tita Fatui
  • 2017 South Burnett Player of the Year – Keisha Carstairs

Team of the Century halfback Noel Liesegang and coach Peter Carstairs with members of the South Burnett U18 Girls team

South Burnett Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff presented Traevonnah Fisher with the Female Eagle of the Year trophy ... a new award

Senior Referee Arch Early presented the Ken Mills Toyota U15-U16 Referees' Player of the Year award to Blake Shirley, from Nanango

U16 Boys

Team members: Alex Pomfret, Jasper Miller, Jakeb Mead, Taylor Stead, Jack Garrod, Ryley Drayton, Corey Cross, Michael Briggs, Angus Allery, Ryan Macasaet, Nicholas Plint, Jaycob Brazier, Kaia Williams, Brodie Strickland, Keegan Pszkit, Jake Keating, Triston Murray, Matthew Early, Dan English

  • Best Back – Taylor Stead
  • Best Forward – Triston Murray
  • Downer Most improved Player – Michael Griggs
  • 2017 South Burnett Player of the Year – Corey Cross
  • South Burnett Junior Encouragement Award – Jaspar Miller

Team of the Century prop Bob Dennien with members of the U16s Boys team and coach Ryan Smith

Senior referee Arch Early presented fellow referee Cathy Geary with the trophy for "Best Club Person"

NRL Referee Development Officer Glen Richardson presented Sophie Klein with the Junior Referee of the Year trophy

  • Senior Referee of the Year is Kevin Watson

U18 Boys

John Blair, Jaycob Brazier, Benjamin Brooks, Kane Brunjes, Andrew Champney, James Christensen, Corey Cross, Izaak Cusworth, Luke Dudgeon, Elwyn Fewquandie, George Fisher, Maurice Fisher, Orlyn Fisher, Bronson Fogarty, Ralph Gyemore, Tyreese Gyemore, Conan Holding, Lloyd Hopkins, Benjamin Irwin, Kasey Lynas, Jackson Mladenovic, Tylyn Prior, Kirby Rubesaame, Errol Simpson, Harley Smith, Thomas Springate, Connor Sullivan, Byron Yesberg, Nathaniel Zerner, Jonathan Walsh, Cohen Beggs, Barry Tapau-Fewquandie

  • Best Back – Errol Simpson
  • Best Forward – Conan Holding
  • Downer Most Improved Player – George Fisher
  • 2017 South Burnett Player of the Year – Jackson Mladenovic

Team of the Century reserve Frank Malone with members of the U18s Boys Team and coach Mal Clark

U20s 47th Battalion team

Jeff Vaughan, Buddy Stanley, Errol Simpson, Fred Cobbo, Brent Greenslade, Barwoo Fisher, Michael Giles, Maurice Fisher, Jaye Allery, Peter Bollan, Josh Brown, Jordan Willison, Blake McMahon, Mitch Bleys, Triston Parry, Cohen Beggs, Connor Sullivan

  • Under 20 Player of the Year – Jaye Allery

SBRL president and Under 20s team manager Greg Pomfret with two of the Under 20s SB Eagles

Warren Collins presented encouragement awards to a number of young players

Chris "Choppy" Close presented the award for Club Delegate of the Year to Scott and Sheree Prendergast

* * *

A little background information … with apologies for any errors, as these lists have been compiled from different sources:

South Burnett Team Of The Century (1908-2008)

  • Ian Pearce (Blackbutt) – Fullback  (captain)
  • Harry Pickering (Murgon) – Wing
  • Phillip Braithwaite (Murgon) – Centre
  • Allan “Buddy” Hunter (Nanango) – Centre
  • Liam Duggan (Wondai) – Wing
  • Frank Fisher (Cherbourg) – Five-eighth
  • Noel Liesegang (Murgon) – Halfback
  • Bob Dennien (Wondai) – Prop
  • Bryan Niebling (Murgon) – Hooker
  • Tom Duggan (Wondai) – Prop
  • Dave Brown (Kingaroy) – Second Row
  • Ron Schultz (Wondai) – Second Row
  • John Wittenberg (Kingaroy) – Lock
  • Jack O’Chin (Cherbourg) – Reserve
  • Frank Malone (Murgon) – Reserve
  • Alan Trunks (Wondai) – Reserve
  • David Moffett (Blackbutt) – Reserve

Coach: Russell “Skippy” Exelby

Cherbourg Team Of The Century

  • Jack O’Chin – Fullback
  • Johnson Mate Mate – Wing
  • Jack Simpson – Centre
  • Eric Law – Centre
  • Daryl Harrison – Wing
  • Frank Fisher – Five-eighth (captain)
  • Jack Malone – Halfback
  • Bill Hegarty – Prop
  • Norman Bird – Hooker
  • Les Wragge Snr – Prop
  • Darcy Burke – Second Row
  • Steve Hart – Second Row
  • Duncan Cobbo – Lock
  • Charles Hill – Reserve
  • Jack Watson – Reserve
  • Bev Costello Snr – Reserve
  • Arnold Murray – Reserve
  • Frank Malone – Reserve

South Burnett players in the Wide Bay Team Of The Century:

  • Ian Pearce (Blackbutt) – Fullback
  • Frank Fisher (Cherbourg) – Five-eighth
  • Bryan Niebling (Murgon) – Second Row
  • Tom Duggan (Wondai) – Second Row
  • Phillip Braithwaite (Murgon) – Reserve

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One Response to Rugby League’s Best On Show

  1. Daryl Swan

    Re: South Burnett Team of the Century (1908-2008)

    The listing of the team is correct however the positions of the forwards shown are incorrect. The team was named on the old numbering of players ie 1-7 (backs) which is still the same but the forwards were 8-13 with 8 the lock, 9 & 10 2nd row, 11 & 13 front row (props) and 12 hooker.

    Therefore the listed forwards are as follows –
    Bob Dennien – Lock
    Bryan Niebling & Tom Duggan – 2nd Row
    Dave Brown & John Wittenberg – Front Row
    Ron Schulz – Hooker.

    It is pleasing to see that both Barry Green and Bob Coleman were honoured with recognition of their respective contributions to “the greatest game of all” in the South Burnett over a long period of time. Prior to both of them being radio commentators, Barry played for Nanango and Bob was a whistleblower for many years. Congratulations to both of them.

    Finally I hope the message from Broncos chairman Dennis Watt regarding the NRL awarding a medal to the best indigenous player each season to honour the late and great Frank Fisher does come to fruition. Both Fisher and the late and great Arthur Beetson were the best indigenous players of their respective eras to play rugby league in Queensland and it would be fitting for Frank to finally receive similar recognition to that which has been bestowed upon Big Artie.

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