A resounding round one victory over the Raiders gave the Matthews Cup Sharks plenty of hope, however the remainder of the 2021 season was something of a disappointment as the under-17 Sharks failed to make the competition finals.
Along the way there was a lot to like, littered with some inconsistency, with the young Sharks probably left to regret letting a big lead slip in a 28-all draw with the Steelers, after earlier going down to the North Sydney Bears at home in a match they had well in their keeping.
That being said, the Matthews Cup Sharks unearthed a number of quality players throughout the season and with lessons learned from what was the first year in junior rep competition for many, will be better for the experience going forward.
Without the ability to conduct a presentation event due to the COVID situation and with the new season of junior rep rugby league just around the corner, the Matthews Cup Sharks can now announce the award winners from the 2021 junior rep season.
Matthews Cup Player of the Year - Sam McCulloch
A rangy front rower with the ability to play big minutes, McCulloch was a standout for the Matthews Cup Sharks in 2021, taking on and more often than not coming out on top of his opposition front rowers.
Playing for St John Bosco-Como in the local junior league, while also a student at Endeavour Sports High where he held his own against bigger and older opponents in schoolboy rugby league, Sharks Head Coach Jim Pizanias explained that McCulloch was a vital member of the Matthews Cup team.
"Sam is a big, strong, middle forward who is aggressive, skilful and has a great offload,” Pizanias said. “He also has an excellent work ethic, was a pleasure to coach and is certainly a worthy winner of our Player of the Year award.”
Matthews Cup Coaches Award - Chevy Stewart
A year young and eligible to go around again in the Matthews Cup competition in 2022, Chevy Stewart was something of a surprise packet for Pizanias and his coaching staff during the past season.
Beating out older boys to win a regular spot in the Sharks team for round one, Stewart cemented his place on the wing, before spending some time during the later rounds at fullback, where his speed, competitive spirit and footy smarts made him a dangerous proposition for opposition defences.
From the Kurnell club, the sky is the limit for Stewart, who thoroughly deserved the coaches award recognition for his 2021 Matthews Cup season.
"For a player that can play Harold Matts again in 2022, Chevy played above his weight, showed a great temperament and it was a pleasure to watch him grow as a person and as a player throughout the year,” Pizanias said.
"Chevy is never intimidated and plays the game at speed. If he continues to work hard and develop he appears destined for a big future in the game.”