Nathan Ross set the Newcastle Rugby League season alight last year with his electric play sparking the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs’ fairytale run home to the 2013 grand final.
In his new role as Newcastle Knights’ NSW Cup fullback Ross has once again been turning heads and has once again helped guide his side to a decider.
Ross will line up for the Knights, who have not lost since round 17, when they tackle the Penrith Panthers at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday and it follows his selection in the NSW Cup side of the year.
The merit team was named on the NSW Rugby League website this week with Jamie Anderson, Adam Kidd and Terry Liberopoulos posting comments on each position.
The No.1 jersey was hotly contested with Ross getting the nod over Clinton Gutherson based on his try-scoring ability and the fact the Knights remain unbeaten since round 17.
“Straight off the bat we can tell you that this was perhaps the most keenly contested position of all and as a result there was some extremely vigorous debate at the selection table,” selectors explained.
“Had our side been chosen, at let’s say, the completion of round 16, Clinton Gutherson would have almost certainly got the spot, but Nathan Ross’ finish to the season has been nothing short of electric and it has seen him leapfrog Gutherson in the pecking order.
“Due to injury, Nathan Ross has only managed to play 15 of the Knights 25 games thus far, however, he has crossed for 17 tries at better than a try a game when he has been on the park and is also a big reason why the Knights have not lost since round 17.”
Ross was one of four Knights players picked in the NSW Cup team of the year with halfback Michael Dobson, winger Josh Mantellato and utility Tyler Randall also included.
The other local in the mix was West Maitland junior Sam Anderson, who was named on a versatile bench for his work with Penrith before being called up to the NRL squad.
“Sam Anderson got the nod for a bench spot when he probably beat out his Panthers team mate Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who can definitely count himself unlucky,” selectors explained.
“Anderson has played in 19 games for the Panthers and would have played in more had he not been called up to the NRL recently.
“The fact that Anderson has started in each of his 19 appearances while Gillard has spent some time coming off the bench tells us that they [Panthers] still feel Anderson has the edge, and that’s good enough for us.”
Former Lakes United coach Rip Taylor was named NSW Cup coach of the year for his season with the Wyong Roos.