WIMMERA footballers celebrated their development season with the Greater Western Victoria Rebels in the TAC Cup on Sunday.
Stawell Warrior Jackson Taurau received the Rebels Personal Growth Award.
The award is a trip to Port Phillip Bay to swim with the sharks.
Horsham Saint Thomas Berry took home the Sewell Trophy as the best first year player.
Berry said his first season with the Rebels had been a new and exciting experience.
“We’re playing against bigger bodies and in a bit more of an elite system. I had a few injuries; stress fractures in my back and a meniscus tear (knee), which I had surgery on. I missed the last five games, as well as a couple with my knee,” he said.
Berry was able to play a majority of the season in midfield and said he loved it.
“One of the best parts is the professionalism of it, like in rehab. I was helped and taught how to work with setbacks and manage them. It helped me with my mental strength. Now I have a stronger body because of it,” he said.
“Then I look at the coaches from this year and they all put heaps of time in, more than they needed to.”
Berry said he wasn’t expecting the award.
He was fifth in the overall vote count receiving 203 votes. Winner of the Adam Goodes trophy Callan Wellings received 426 votes.
Berry’s knee is still recovering from surgery but said he had the brace taken off one week ago.
Taurau said he thought he had a decent season.
“I was probably the smallest key back-men in the league,” he said.
“It was always challenging to be up against some big boys, we always seemed to be under the pump. Being part of that team was cool, having five different regions come together and having a big role in that...”
Taurau didn’t get many opportunities to play in 2016 but played every single game in 2017. Taurau said he thought he played more games because he knuckled down in pre-season.
“I took it a step further. I worked to get better,” he said.
Taurau said his hardest challenge this season was playing against the Sandringham Dragons.
“They had three or four huge monsters but I didn’t have anyone kick bags on me this season,” he said.
Taurau said new back line coach Joe Carmody was good to him.
“He had a lot of great ideas, he was a champion bloke,” he said. Rebels talent manager Phil Partington was impressed with the players development throughout 2017 and said Stawell Warrior Naish McRoberts played 13 games this season.
“Matty Lloyd (Horsham Demons) played every game this year and played in various positions, he has a bright future ahead of him,” he said.
“Charlie Wilson (Warrack Eagles) has had a lot of growth and hopefully he can get a good pre-season. Angus Gove (Horsham Saints) is a young developing player with a good work ethic. Paddy Turner (Ararat Rats) played a couple of games and has developed.”