Tigani's Top Ten: NHRU Premier 1 players for 2019

TIGANI'S TOP TEN: Singleton trio Kemble Frost, Cooper Harris and captain Dillon Rowney were all considered for the final cut.
TIGANI'S TOP TEN: Singleton trio Kemble Frost, Cooper Harris and captain Dillon Rowney were all considered for the final cut.

The Singleton Argus has released its official top ten NHRU Premier 1 players list this morning following the opening round of the season.

Sports reporter Alex Tigani has partnered up with Tim Partridge and Chris Coleman who are both key figures within the Singleton Bulls coaching staff.

While the Bulls will enter tomorrow's clash against powerhouse Hamilton as the severe underdog local fans will be pleased to learn that two Singleton Bulls made the final cut.

New recruit Kemble Frost was also in consideration for the top ten.

However the former Ratana star would join high calibre names such as Seva Rokobaro (Merewhether) and Anderson medallist Nick Davidson (Maitland) on the honourable mentions list instead.

10. Steve Lamont (Hamilton)

Hamilton captain Steve Lamont leads the Hawks out for the 2018 grand final. Picture: Marina Neil

Hamilton captain Steve Lamont leads the Hawks out for the 2018 grand final. Picture: Marina Neil

Position: Hooker/Openside-flanker.

In a similar scenario to our top ten SDCA first grade cricketers list (see story) two stars of the league would cling onto the final spot on the list. Lamont was the man who led the Hawks to a fourth straight premiership last season and there's every chance he'll do some damage at Singleton's Rugby Park this Saturday as well. 

Expert says: "Great mobilitiy and a great motor in terms of staying in the game," Chris Coleman.

"A tough competitor and a great leader for Hamilton who has been there for some years and a very influential player for his side."

and Ben Ham (Wanderers)

Ben Ham (Wanderers) was one of two Anderson medallists to make the final cut.

Ben Ham (Wanderers) was one of two Anderson medallists to make the final cut.

Position: Back-rower.

The captain's theme continues with Ben Ham sharing 10th spot on the list. While he did not receive the nod from some coaches his opposing Singleton captain (Dillon Rowney) rates him as one of the league's finest talents.

Besides, we couldn't shaft two Anderson medalists.

Expert says: "Just his toughness and hardness alone would put him in the list," Tim Partridge.​

9. Joe Akkersdyk (Hamilton)​

NSW Country representative Joe Akkersdyk pictured for Hamilton.

NSW Country representative Joe Akkersdyk pictured for Hamilton.

Position: Back-rower

Described by the Newcastle Herald as a 'flint-hard, no-frills back-rower'. Has since gone onto represent NSW Country while remaining as a key ingredient of the Hawks' premiership dynasty.

Experts say:  

"Very consistent and very tough," Chris Coleman. 

"He's a big and strong athlete who tends to dominate any collisions that he is in."

Tim Partridge adds, "He is a really smart footballer and is one of the best line-out jumpers in the game."​

8. Adrian DeLore (University)

Adrian DeLore will represent University this year.

Adrian DeLore will represent University this year.

Position: Fullback

A star for Southern Beaches in 2018 and now a likely standout for the Uni side in his new club's climb up the ladder.

Expert says: "In common with many of the players I'll name (higher) in the list he has great anticipation, good speed and very good ball skills," Chris Coleman.

"Often turns a game with his involvements."​

7. Cooper Harris (Singleton)

Cooper Harris pictured with his Singleton skipper Dillon Rowney.

Cooper Harris pictured with his Singleton skipper Dillon Rowney.

Position: Halfback

Though Singleton only won four games last season Harris did enough to earn a spot in the team of the year. His absence (serving a suspension) will be costly this weekend.

Expert says: "Tremendous speed, great anticipation; he sees where space is and he exploits it well," Chris Coleman.

"He was the equal leading try scorer last year in only his second year of rugby."

6. Chad Northcott (Nelson Bay)

The only Nelson Bay player to make the final cut was Chad Northcott.

The only Nelson Bay player to make the final cut was Chad Northcott.

Position: Fly-half/Fullback

If there was room for only one Nelson Bay player then look no further.

Expert says: "Terrific attacking player who has great awareness and very good speed and he's unselfish; often setting up his smaller teammates," Chris Coleman.

5. Dane Sherratt (Hamilton)

Dane Sherratt's premiership winning energy on display.

Dane Sherratt's premiership winning energy on display.

Position: Fly-half.

The third Hawk to make the list however none will feature in the top four. To that I say, a team of champions will never beat a champion team; particularly one aiming for a fifth straight premiership in 2019.

Expert says: "Always carries the ball to the line to give his outside players a capacity to attack," Chris Coleman.

"A very good kicker of the footy but generally stays in attacking mode and controls the game very well."

4. Dillon Rowney (Singleton)​

When Dillon Rowney speaks, Singleton listens.

When Dillon Rowney speaks, Singleton listens.

Position: Fullback/Outside-Centre.

You will not find a more passionate first grade leader when assessing clubs on the rebuild. He may be the difference for the Bulls when hosting Hamilton on Saturday.

Expert says: "Great speed, good defender," Chris Coleman.

"He has great game knowledge and can also impact a game very positively in either attack or defence."

3. Travis Brooke (Maitland)

High flying Travis Brooke was one of two Maitland Blacks to feature towards the top of the list.

High flying Travis Brooke was one of two Maitland Blacks to feature towards the top of the list.

Position: Number-8

Though he may not have the premiership success of his Hamilton opponents few influence as many games as this star carrier.

Expert says: "He's a fantastic line-out jumper, he's a great ball carrier and he has a great game awareness and a very calm presence of the field," Chris Coleman.

2. Jay Strachan (Merewether)

Jay Strachan was a close contender to top this list.

Jay Strachan was a close contender to top this list.

Position: "play him anywhere..."

Jay Strachan has two options.

Take out the Anderson medal or guide Merewether to its first premiership since 2011.... either triumph will grant him the number one spot on the list.

Experts say: "Fantastic attacking footballer, he can play full back, inside centre and outside centre with equal effect," Chris Coleman.

"He has fantastic feet, great balance and good speed with very good anticipation.

"He's one of those blokes who can turn a game very quickly."

Tim Partridge adds, "He is very powerful, an amazing turn of speed and a high acceleration of angle."​

1. Carl Manu (Maitland)

Maitland captain Carl Manu lands the winner on the weekend.

Maitland captain Carl Manu lands the winner on the weekend.

Position: Inside-Centre

It's simply Manu, for me and for you.

The two time Anderson medalist accepted the match ball after it was delivered by sky divers last week before scoring Maitland's winning try.

Experts say:

"He is without a doubt one of the best in the competition," Tim Partridge.

"He's a great game-breaker, he's very consistent and he always has a winning involvement in games," Chris Coleman.

"He's a Ninja Turtle," Dillon Rowney.

Previous 2019 top ten lists by Alex Tigani (Singleton Argus) include: