November 04, 2017
Fiji Airways Drua Captain John Stewart and impressive halfback Frank Lomani have been named in the 2017 National Rugby Championship team of the season.
Top Australian sports channel Fox Sports staff have compiled their list of top players of the season based on their individual performances in all rounds of the competition.
As the only Drua player with Super Rugby experience, Stewart led the newcomers from the midfield, scoring four tries to go with eight linebreaks and a team high six linebreak assists in the nine rounds the championship.
Lomani on the other hand was as excellent in his distribution and game management as he was in open field play.
He scored the most tries by a scrumhalf in the competition this season and remarkably, three of the five tries were the opening scores of the match.
As a reward, he has been selected in John McKee’s Fiji Test squad for their end of season tour to Europe.
Two other players of Fijian decent, Perth Spirit Number 8 Isikeli Naisarani and Queensland Country winger Filipo Daugunu have also made the list of top 15 while injured Peceli Nacebe and giant winger Taqele Naiyaravoro are in the list of notable mentions for the season.
Team of the season (1-15)- Paddy Ryan (NSW Country Eagles), Folau Fainga’a (Canberra Vikings), Taniela Tupou (Queensland Country), Matt Philip (Perth Spirit), Tom Staniforth (NSW Country Eagles), Rob Valetini (Canberra Vikings), Tom Cusack (Canberra Vikings), Isi Naisarani (Perth Spirit), Frank Lomani (Fijian Drua), Quade Cooper (Brisbane City), Ed Fidow (Brisbane City), Duncan Paia’aua (Queensland Country), John Stewart (Fijian Drua) , Filipo Daugunu (Queensland Country), Tom Banks (Canberra Vikings).
Notable mentions- James Verity-Amm (Perth Spirit), Jed Holloway (Greater Sydney Rams), Michael Ruru (Perth Spirit), Jack Maddocks (Melbourne Rising), Peceli Nacebe (Fijian Drua), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Greater Sydney Rams), Damien Fitzpatrick (Sydney Rays).
Coach of the year: Brad Thorn (Queensland Country)
By Reginald Chandar