Award winners inspire captain to focus early on 2019
WESTERN Pride captain Jesse Rigby is itching to get back on the field despite the 2018 National Premier Leagues season finishing just weeks ago.
After a forced mid-season break recovering from an ankle injury, Rigby is only planning a short rest before focusing on preparations for the 2019 NPL season.
"I've been dying to get back into it,'' he said, having captained Pride's senior men's side since joining the Ipswich club in 2015.
"It's been annoying because it's the first time I've really ever had an injury and been out so long (with eight weeks rehabilitation).''
After keeping a keen eye on recent Pride trials for the new season, Rigby was pleased to see two of his most important teammates recognised at Saturday night's annual Western Pride trophy presentation function at the Ipswich Showgrounds.
Striker Joe Duckworth (Player of the Year and Players' Player) and defender Hayden Mchenery (Best and Fairest) received the night's premier awards.
"Joey is a bloke who is always there, week in, week out,'' Rigby said.
"He always gets the ball and do the running and really just puts in for the team . . . (he's) very unselfish.''
The Pride skipper was delighted to see Mchenery receive an elite off-season opportunity with Auckland City in New Zealand.
"He's loving that,'' Rigby said.
"Hopefully we can get him back next year (for the NPL).''
Rigby was pleased to see so many of his teammates re-signing for another shot at NPL glory.
"I'm really happy to be with a good bunch of guys,'' he said.
One player not expected back is Brisbane Roar recruit Dylan Wenzel-Halls who won Pride's Golden Boot honour this year.
He scored 23 goals in just 11 matches before being signed for his first A-League season.
Saturday night's awards function also honoured the achievements of Pride's successful under-18 and under-20 teams, which both made this year's NPL grand final. The under 18s won the grand final title for the first time.
Mitch Herrmann (U20) and Aidan Norris (U18) were acknowledged with Best and Fairest awards.
Matt Haspels (U20) and Jacob Advaney (U18) received their respective Players' Player accolades.
Rigby said young coach Jordan Manning deserved a special mention for overseeing both teams while playing for the under-20s.
"Jordy does a lot of work that just doesn't get recognised,'' Rigby said. "He's there long hours.''
Western Pride award winners for the 2018 NPL season.
Senior men: Player of the Year - Joe Duckworth. Best and Fairest: Hayden Mchenery. Players' Player: Joe Duckworth. Golden Boot: Dylan Wenzel Halls (23 goals from 11 matches).
Senior women: Player of the Year - Zoe Lambi. Best and Fairest: Georgina Adnum. Players' Player: Holly Van Der Zee. Golden Boot: Sophie Weatherby (15 goals from 26 matches).
U20 men: Best and Fairest - Mitch Herrmann. Players' Player: Matt Haspels.
U18 boys: Best and Fairest - Aidan Norris. Players' Player: Jacob Advaney.
U17 girls: Best and Fairest - Claire Peucker. Players' Player: Lauren Veeren.