Former Ipswich duo handed high honours
TWO former Ipswich Jets have been rewarded for stellar seasons in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership competition.
With four "team of the week'' selections to each of their names in 2016, Newtown Jets duo Kurt Capewell and Josh Cleeland have been named in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW team of the year.
After helping Ipswich to glory in the Queensland competition in 2015, the two rising stars were signed by the Cronulla Sharks feeder-club Newtown and haven't looked back.
Despite missing out on a grand final berth, Cleeland was instrumental in a number of come-from- behind wins for the Jets this year. Attracting interest from NRL rivals, the Canterbury Bulldogs, the young Queenslander was named alongside Canberra Raiders young-gun Sam Williams in the halves.
Joined by fellow Newtown teammate Matt McIlwrick who snared the role of hooker, Capewell was selected as second interchange for the emerging squad.
Having played 18 of the Jets' 21 games this year, Capewell has consistently performed on a potent right edge. He has the speed and strength to make it in the NRL, has made the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Team Of The Week on three occasions, and has four tries to his name this season. In his Round 18 debut for the Sharks, the 23-year-old was solid in a 50-minute, 136-metre, 18-tackle performance off the bench.
While Capewell has played 17 of those games in the second row, he spent much of his time at Ipswich in the centres - and his versatility was on show for all to see with a successful switch out wide in Round 22. It was a man-of-the-match performance in the 22-19 victory, picking up a try, setting up another and making three line-breaks for 197 metres.
With Cleeland having singed a two-year deal with the Canterbury Bulldogs, and Capewell preparing to run out for the Cronulla Sharks in this weekend's NRL preliminary final, the two Ipswich products have had a big impact on their new club this year.
Newtown Jets official Glen Dwyer said the club was already looking to lock Capewell down for another season and wished the out-going Cleeland well on his next journey with the Bulldogs.
"They have done the Ipswich Jets and Queensland proud,” Dwyer said. "They have both had tremendous seasons and they were top class blokes off the field as well.
"Another Queenslander Jordan Drew, whose home town is Nanango, also played very well with Newtown but his season was dogged by injury.”
Last year's NSWRL team of the year selections Damien Cook, Leilani Latu, Daniel Alvaro and Kerrod Holland all went on to star in the NRL in 2016.
Tomorrow the Mounties and Illawarra Cutters will face-off in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership grand final from 4.15pm at Pirtek Stadium.
NSWRL Team of the Year
1. Zac Santo (Mounties)
2. Kato Ottio (Mounties)
3. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (NZ Warriors)
4. Levi Dodd (Illawarra Cutters)
5. Josh Addo-Carr (Wests Tigers)
6. Josh Cleeland (Newtown Jets)
7. Sam Williams (Mounties)
8. Shannon Wakeman (Illawarra Cutters)
9. Matt McIlwrick (Newtown Jets)
10. Eloni Vunakece (Wyong Roos)
11. Tyrone McCarthy (Illawarra Cutters)
12. Jarrad Kennedy (Mounties)
13. Zane Tetevano (Wyong Roos)
14. Justin Hunt (Wests Tigers)
15. Kurt Capewell (Newtown Jets)
16. Jacob Host (Illawarra Cutters)
17. Lloyd Perrett (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Additional information from NSW Rugby League