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REAL NRL: Huth, Lamb share Player of the Year honours

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Enjoyment and mateship were key elements in hooker Luke Huth’s sensational season in Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL).

The Cessnock Goannas star shared the prestigious Player of the Year honour with Maitland Pickers playmaker Brock Lamb at the annual presentation function, at the Newcastle Jockey Club, on Saturday 30 September.

The duo both finished on 19 points, just ahead of South Newcastle Lions duo Ryan Glanville and Mitch Black, Macquarie Scorpion Bayden Searle and the Wyong Roos forward Nathan Kegg-King.

But, the leaderboard was completely different when voting went behind closed doors after round 12.

Maitland Pickers halfback Brock Lamb was named joint Player of the Year in Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

Searle, on 14, enjoyed a slender advantage over Huth (11), Black (11), Kegg-King (11), Lamb (11) and Glanville (10).

However, the joint winners came home with a wet sail over the final stages of the Denton Engineering Cup.

“I’m pretty humbled by this,” Huth said.

“Although, I’m not really a big fan of receiving individual awards because it’s a 17-man team that plays throughout the season.

“I’ve just had the privilege of playing off the back of them.

“So, from that point, it’s very rewarding… but it also comes from those blokes I play with each week.”

Huth, who also tasted success on the representative scene, admitted 2023 was one of his most enjoyable years throughout his career.

“It has been 100%,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“Coach Harry Siejka was at the forefront of that, as well as the guys he’s got around us.

“They’re all an awesome bunch of blokes.

“And, when you’re in that environment, it brings out the best in your footy, too.

“I’m definitely returning in 2024.”

In fact, Huth and his Cessnock teammates have unfinished business.

“Obviously, this season stung, not making the big one,” he said.

“We were so close; however, it wasn’t meant to be.

“You need to be the best when it matters… but we just fell short.

“We’ll learn from that experience and use the hurt and pain we felt to spur us on.

“At the end of the day, names on paper don’t win games.

“We had a good side, however if you don’t perform or seal those [big] moments, it means nothing.

“Maitland, on the other hand, has been the best for the past three years for a reason.

“And, that’s where we need to be.

“So, if you want to be the best, you need to beat the best – and that’s Maitland.

“I’m sure we’ll get together in the pre-season and work on the things that let us down.”

Lamb, named man of the match in the 2023 decider, wasn’t available to collect his trophy.

But, Pickers president John Gorman sung the praises of his halfback, who also snared the leading pointscorer plaudits with 147.

“Brock’s instrumental in what we do on and off the field,” he said.

“His leadership to the club, the group and within the organisation is second-to-none.

“Every week, we have kids come into the ground and he’s the first one to hang with them.

“He’s an idol to the youngsters and such a great bloke.”

Maitland mentor Matt Lantry was the obvious choice for Coach of the Year, while The Entrance Tigers young gun Haydan Ritchie took out Rookie of the Year from Mayson Metcalf (Kurri Kurri Bulldogs), Luke Knight (Pickers) and Cody Hancock (Northern Hawks).

The Entrance Tigers Haydan Ritchie was named Newcastle Rugby League’s Rookie of the Year. Photo: Rod Thompson

Goannas winger Honeti Tuha touched down on 24 occasions to secure leading tryscorer.

NSWRL Representative Player of the Year Chad O’Donnell walked away with the Newcastle title as well.

The Maitland five-eighth beat out Cameron Anderson (Central Newcastle Butcher Boys) and fellow Pickers Jayden Butterfield and James Bradley after the Rebels captured the Country Championship.

Wests’ Hayden Loughrey picked up Try of the Year while Northern Hawks’ front-rower Josh Toole lined up Hit of the Year.

Representatuve Player of the Year Chad O’Donnell.

The Real NRL Team of the Year consisted: fullback Luke Sharpe (Wyong Roos), winger Tuha (Cessnock Goannas), centre Brayden Musgrove (Cessnock Goannas), five-eighth Glanville (South Newcastle Lions), halfback Lamb (Maitland Pickers), prop Kegg-King (Wyong Roos), hooker Huth (Cessnock Goannas), second-rower Nicholas Glohe (Lakes United Seagulls) and lock Ben Stone (Western Suburbs Rosellas).

The Goannas reaped the spoils in the LeagueCastle awards, with Sam Clune producing the most line-break assists with 22, Tuha the most line breaks with 20 and Musgrove the most metres run (2,626) and most tackle breaks (97).

Sharpe collected most try assists, with 21, and Stone made the most tackles with 678.

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League 2023 awards

  • Player of the Year: Luke Huth (Cessnock Goannas)/Brock Lamb (Maitland Pickers)
  • Rookie of the Year: Haydan Ritchie (The Entrance Tigers)
  • Coach of the Year: Matt Lantry (Maitland Pickers)
  • Hit of the Year: Josh Toole (Northern Hawks)
  • Try of the Year: Hayden Loughrey (Western Suburbs Rosellas)
  • Representative Player of the Year: Chad O’Donnell (Maitland Pickers)
  • Leading pointscorer: Brock Lamb (Maitland Pickers)
  • Leading tryscorer: Honeti Tuha (Cessnock Goannas)

Team of the Year

  • Fullback: Luke Sharpe (Wyong Roos)
  • Winger: Honeti Tuha (Cessnock Goannas)
  • Centre: Brayden Musgrove (Cessnock Goannas)
  • Five-eighth: Ryan Glanville (South Newcastle Lions)
  • Halfback: Brock Lamb (Maitland Pickers)
  • Prop: Nathan Kegg-King (Wyong Roos)
  • Hooker: Luke Huth (Cessnock Goannas)
  • Second-rower: Nicholas Glohe (Lakes United Seagulls)
  • Lock: Ben Stone (Western Suburbs Rosellas)

LeagueCastle 2023 awards

  • Most try assists: Luke Sharpe 21 (Wyong Roos)
  • Most line-break assists: 22 Sam Clune (Cessnock Goannas)
  • Most tackles: Ben Stone 678 (Western Suburbs Rosellas)
  • Most line breaks: Honeti Tuha 20 (Cessnock Goannas)
  • Most metres run: Brayden Musgrove 2,626 (Cessnock Goannas) Most tackle breaks: Brayden Musgrove 97 (Cessnock Goannas)

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