To cap off an already successful season for the Newcastle Knights reserve grade, four of its players were named in the NSW Cup 2014 Team of the Year.
Nathan Ross, Josh Mantellato, Michael Dobson and Tyler Randell were recognised as some of the competition’s best with the announcement made by NSW Rugby League on Sunday.
For Nathan Ross, the accolade is an incredible achievement for the fullback who only managed 15 of the Knights’ 25 games due to injury, but has recorded a better than try-a-game average scoring 17 times this season.
“To be named in the Team of the Year is outstanding and it’s an accomplishment,” Ross told Knights TV on Tuesday.
“My motivation has always been to go out there and try to do the best I can.
“I’ve had a few injuries and a few set backs, I guess there were points in time when I was questioning whether to keep pushing on with it all.
“But I have great team that support me and great support staff and coaching staff who really encourage the style of football I play.
“To be a part of a team sport, not only do you want to be in it for yourself, you want to do the best with the people around you."
The side’s star winger, Josh Mantellato, earns his selection on top of being the competition’s highest points scorer for the third year in a row.
“I’m very happy, it’s a good personal accolade to have next to my name,” Mantellato said.
“I try to play consistent football each week…the more consistent you are, the better you play week in week out.
“We’ve all bonding really well, with that comes great football on the field so it’s no surprise that those blokes are on the team as well."
The 27-year-old said it was special to learn of the achievement from his family after the grand final deciding win.
"After the game on Sunday, I went over to see my parents and they were obviously very happy that we won and then Mum told me about being in the Team of the Year, I couldn’t believe it," Mantellato added.
It’s has also been a particularly successful year for Michael Dobson, who has established himself as a leader in the NSW Cup side since joining the Club at the beginning of the year.
“It’s a good reward for the year and goes to show how well we play as a team and how consistent we were over the course of the year to get four blokes in there,” Dobson said.
“I’ve struck up a good combination with (Nathan) Rossy and (Clint) Newto, who I’ve played with a fair bit.
“We’ve pulled together…we’ve had a pretty tough time of it mid season there when we had a few injuries, but we stuck at it.
“I think that shows what a good side we are.”
For hooker Tyler Randell, who has represented in the NSW Cup representative side before making his NRL debut in Round 25, he believes 2014 has been his most successful year of football.
“It’s been a great year for me personally, it’s probably the best year for me in rugby league in my life, and hopefully this weekend can top it off with a grand final win,” Randell said.
“Individual recognition is good and was a bit of a buzz, especially after winning on Sunday and to also get four of us in the team, it’s a good pat on the back for the team."
For now, the NSW Cups Knights have their focus on Sunday's grand final against the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium.
“Both games we’ve played them have been tough games and they’ve been the benchmark all year,” Randell added.
“It will be a really tough game on Sunday, but I have no doubt we can knock them off.”