Shepparton Bulls players Lee-Roy Huthmann-Grace and Shawn Tunumafono along with their coach Warren Johnston have won top VicRugby honours.By Hannah Driscoll
Shepparton Bulls may have failed to bring home a premiership on Saturday, but the impact the new VicRugby side had this season was felt in the awards they did bring home.
Lee-Roy Huthmann-Grace was awarded highest point and try scorer across Victoria and Shawn Tunumafono won the country division best-and-fairest award.
Coach Warren Johnston was also named most improved coach for Victoria.
It caps a huge season for the new club, which snapped up the Country 7s tournament in March, was third division minor premier after it went undefeated through the home-and-away season, and dropped only three matches in the metropolitan second division A-grade.
‘‘For the players, I was very proud because they were probably the two players that have been consistently very good all year and don’t give up,’’ Johnston said.
‘‘I was very proud of those boys, they’ve done very well.’’
During the season, fullback Huthmann-Grace, 24, scored 19 tries 291 points, and added another two tries and 15 points in the grand final against Bendigo.
The New Zealand native, who moved to the Gold Coast as a teenager before coming to Shepparton, is one of several former Cobram players with the Bulls.
‘‘It’s been a good season. I’m the only one from the team that’s played every game and we still had four teams forfeit to us, so that’s more points I could have accumulated,’’ Huthmann-Grace said.
Tunumafono, one of the youngsters in the Bulls’ team at 18, was ‘‘shocked’’ by his win.
He spoke highly of the atmosphere and camaraderie between the Bulls players and said the highlight for him this season was the win against Eltham.
‘‘We had no bench and no subs, everyone was hurt, but we knew we had no subs so we all stood up and kept playing,’’ Tunumafono said.
‘‘We were injured at the same time, but the boys in their hearts just kept going. We were looking at our coach and his face and that pushed us, that won us the game.’’
Both Huthmann-Grace and Tunumafono plan to continue with Shepparton Bulls next season.
Tunumafono, who was born in New Zealand to Samoan parents, also hoped to one day compete for Samoa after narrowly missing selection for its under-20 team this year.
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