Just how far Ricky Leutele has come over the past few seasons has probably never been better emphasised than by his nomination for the 2017 Sharks Player of the Year award.
He may not have won, with Paul Gallen claiming the Monty Porter Medal, but when spoken about in the company of fellow nominees such as the Sharks skipper, Origin backrower Wade Graham and evergreen forward Luke Lewis, it displays the high regard in which Leutele is now held.
Played all 25 games in 2017 and with James Maloney and Graham on his inside, Sosaia Feki outside him on the wing, the Sharks left side in attack gave almost every opponent a difficult time throughout the year.
Has put to bed speculation about a possible transfer to the Gold Coast, which is good news for coach Shane Flanagan and for Sharks fans, with Leutele still evolving and having plenty of improvement ahead.
Season highlight: It was close to the Sharks best performance of the season and an afternoon where Leutele dominated his opposition in his team’s 44-10 win over the Roosters. In a match played on the Central Coast Leutele tore the Roosters apart, scoring two tries, giving the last pass for another, while running for 203 metres, his second highest total of the season.
2017 Stats: Ricky Leutele
Games played: 25
Run Metres: 3117
Dummy half runs: 44
Line breaks: 11
Tackle breaks: 47