Avondale Tigers stalwart and captain Frank Primavera and Gin Gin Hawks skipper Brodie Orpin were unsuspecting joint-winners of the prestigious Gary Stehbens Medal for the Northern Districts Rugby League (NDRL) Players of the Year at their awards dinner at South Kolan on Saturday.
The pair of 31-year-olds each polled 21 points over the 12 rounds, to win by one from Miriam Vale Magpies’ Charles Hopf, with Magpies stalwart Glenn Cox and Hawks goal kicking hooker Cameron Ross on the next line with 16 points each.
Frank, who has given his heart and soul to the Tigers over 12 seasons since starting in 2009 (missing 2020 when the competition was cancelled due to Covid 19) and is in his third season as captain, had previously been runner-up for NDRL’s top award, but he was not even at the dinner, only receiving notification of it five days earlier, after his wife Chloe had organized a family weekend away.
But Brodie was on hand to receive his medal and the perpetual shield from two of the late Gary Stehbens children’ Hayden Stehbens and Rochelle Warhurst.
“I got sent a message through Messenger from my coach (Paul Barritt), but I definitely didn’t expect it,” Frank said.
After being integral parts of four premierships with Avondale, in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2019, when he was captain, Frank would love to retire with another title, but the Tigers have not beaten minor premiers South Kolan Sharks all year, and have beaten second placed Hawks only once, and they will go into the sudden-death minor semi-final against the Magpies in Gin Gin this Sunday at 1pm.
Still, finals are a different game, what has happened so far counts for nothing now, and Frank dares to dream.
“We have a team on paper that can win the premiership, but we just haven’t been able to deliver all year – we have had a substantial amount of injuries, and poor turn-outs for training – we have had a fair few blokes who are unable to commit, and whether we can put it all together is going to be another question,” Frank said.
“This could be my last season – I was ready to give it in last year, but Covid came and cancelled the league, so I played AFL for Brothers Bulldogs, and came back for one more season for the Tigers this year.
“We’ve just had a son, Arlo, who is 6 months old, and I’ve got my own Carpentry business, and we are flat out, and it gets harder and harder each year, so this could be it footy wise, and this award would be a nice way to go out, whatever happens in the finals.”
Brodie was also surprised, having never previously won any NDRL or club awards.
“I didn’t know anything, even that I had won Player of the Rounds,” Brodie said.
The grandson of long serving Bundaberg Referees doyen John Orpin and son of Tom, also a former long-serving top Bundaberg referee, attributes his award to having committed to working on his fitness in the pre-season, and continuing to do the hard work under coach Athol Eggmolesse all year.
“I said to myself to go out and have a good year – they made me captain and it has given me a bit of pride to lead from front,” he said.
South Kolan players won four of the other six pieces of Men’s silverware, Montgomery Chapman-Dynevor (Rookie of Year), Jackson Brown (Burnie Johnson Memorial Trophy for Most Improved Player and Alan Trophy for Most Tries (17), and Darren Broome (Representative Player of the Year).
Cameron Ross picked up the Merv Slean Trophy for Men’s Most Goals with 49, and Finlay Family Trophy for Men’s Most Points with 118.
Gin Gin will host the unbeaten Sharks in the major semi-final on Sunday at 2.45pm, and Brodie admits it will be “another pretty hard game”.
“But hopefully we can all gel together and try our best to get a win, but if not, we will head to Miriam Vale the next week and see who wins that one, but I have got a lot of confidence in the boys – if we play the mind games and play good footy, we should be able to beat South Kolan,” Brodie said.
Brodie’s wife Kristy is also a first-season player for the minor premiership winning Hawkettes, and despite their dominance, Avondale Tigerettes’ Georgia Haupt took out the Women’s League Tag Player of the Year.
The Hawks and Tigerettes will clash in the Minor semi-final at 12 noon this Sunday.
Minor Premiers: South Kolan Sharks.
Stephen Bennett MP Rookie of the Year Award: Montgomery Chapman-Dynevor (South Kolan).
Burnie Johnson Memorial Most Improved Player: Jackson Brown (South Kolan).
Representative Player of the Year Award: Darren Broome (South Kolan).
Alan Bush Trophy Men’s Most Tries: Jackson Brown (South Kolan) 17. Merv Slean Trophy Men’s Most Goals: Cameron Ross (Gin Gin) 49. Finlay Family Trophy Men’s Most Points: Cameron Ross (Gin Gin) 5 Tries & 49 Goals, 118 Points.
Women’s League Tag – Best & Fairest Award: Georgia Haupt (Avondale Tigerettes). Most Tries: Jessica Galea (Gin Gin) 13. Most Goals: Emma Collinson (Gin Gin) 35. Emma Collinson (Gin Gin) 70 Points.
NDRL Player of the Week Awards – WLT: Georgia Haupt (Avondale Tigerettes) W1-6-9; Shannon Lavender Horlyck (Gin Gin Hawkettes) W2; Erin Mitchell (Avondale Tigerettes) W3; Sara Atkinson (Avondale Tigerettes) W4; Jessica Galea (Gin Gin Hawkettes) W5-12; Mikayla Haupt (Avondale Tigerettes) W7-10; Judith Bust (Gin Gin Hawkettes) W8; Maddysen Lauman (Avondale Hornets) W11.
Men’s Players of the Week: Keith Wuriki (Avondale) W1; Francis Primavera (Avondale) W2-8; Brodie Orpin (Gin Gin) W3-7; Cameron Ross (Gin Gin) W4; Folua Latu (South Kolan)/Brendan Prossliner (Avondale) W5; Jacob Olive (South Kolan) W6; Darren Broome (South Kolan)/Francis Primavera (Avondale) W8; Charles Hopf (Miriam Vale) W9-12; Andrew Filo (South Kolan) W10; Eli Johnson (Miriam Vale) W11.
Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premierships finals match-ups are all but sealed prior to tomorrow’s last round of games, with Easts Magpies to be minor premiers regardless of the result of their clash with second placed Wests Panthers at Salter Oval at 5pm.
Wests will meet reigning champions Past Brothers in the qualifying final, irrespective of the outcome of the Brethren’s showdown with Waves Tigers at 3pm.
Hervey Bay Seagulls are assured of a place in the elimination final, but Wallaroos can still mathematically although highly improbably displace Waves from fifth spot and a place in the play-offs if they can post a massive victory over Hervey Bay at home at Eskdale Park, the Tigers are thrashed by the Brethren, AND they can reverse a huge inferior points differential to the Tigers of 95 points.