THE South Coast of New South Wales has long been regarded as one of the top nurseries for rugby league talent in all of Australia.
One could argue the current crop, from Group Seven and Group 16, is as good as the South Coast has ever seen.
Sure, it might not have the resumes of the Gerringong trio Michael Cronin, Paul Quinn and Rod Wishart, Nowra's Tony Branson, Kiama's Shaun Timmins, Milton-Ulladulla's Luke O'Donnell and Moruya's Michael Weyman but the sheer depth the region has right now playing in the NRL - not to mention overseas - has to be the best we've ever experienced.
So we thought we'd name our top 17 South Coast rugby league products, currently on NRL contracts, and see how they stack up against other breeding grounds.
Due to these restrictions, players such as Culburra's Adam Quinlan (Hull KR) and Jack Buchanan (Burleigh Bears), Shellharbour's Trent Merrin (Leeds) who used to play in the NRL, the recently retired Ashton Sims (Gerringong) and Nowra-born Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs) who grew up in Casino, are ineligible for selection in this side
So without further adieu, here is the South Coast's all-star side:
1. Shellharbour's Jai Field - St George Illawarra Dragons
During his time in Group Seven, Field played at Shellharbour and Albion Park-Oak Flats, while coming through the Illawarra Steelers' ranks.
After finishing under 18s at Ron Costello Oval, he transitioned into the Dragons' system, which saw him dominate in the National Youth Competition in 2016 - leading to him penning a three-year deal with the Red V.
Field then made his NRL debut for the Dragons in round one of the 2017 season against Penrith on March 4 - a match the Red V won 42-10.
Field would go on to play for the Dragons twice more that season (rounds 10 and 11), before representing both the NSW under 20s and Junior Kangaroos teams in 2017.
Since his debut season, Field has played eight more NRL games - two in 2018 and six in 2019 - for a total of 11.
2. Gerringong's Reuben Garrick - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Garrick is the latest Gerringong Lions' product to make the big time, after a breakout 2019 season.
During his time at Michael Cronin Oval, the Australian Schoolboys representative won first grade Group Seven titles with the Lions in both 2015 and 2016, before moving into the Dragons under 20s system.
The move to Lottoland proved a masterstroke, as Garrick made his NRL debut in round one of the 2019 season against Wests Tigers (losing 20-6), before going on to play all 26 games for the Sea Eagles this year.
3. Merimbula-Pambula's Euan Aitken - St George Illawarra Dragons
Aitken started his rugby league journey with Merimbula-Pambula before moving up the coast to play in the Group Seven under 18s competition with Shellharbour.
He earned himself an Australian jumper during the under 18s Schoolboys tour of New Zealand.
Following a strong season at Ron Costello Oval, he played for the Dragons NYC side, before graduating into the senior squad at the end of 2014.
Aitken made his NRL debut in round three of the 2015 season against Canberra (winning 22-20) - the first of 23 appearances for the Red V that season.
In 2017 the centre joined Group 16 brothers Dale Finucane and Adam Elliott in the Country vs City Origin.
Since then, Aitken has played 104 games for the Dragons, scoring 35 tries, while also representing both NSW Country and Scotland in 2016.
4. Kiama's Josh Morris - Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
The son of Steve ' Slippery' Morris, Josh played for both Kiama and Gerringong during his junior days in Group Seven, before progressing into the Dragons' system.
Morris made his first grade debut in round one of the NRL 2007 season against the Golf Coast (winning 20-18), before going on to play 22 more times for the Dragons that year.
This would be one of only two seasons (46 games) he would spend with the Red V, before joining Canterbury-Bankstown, where he played 217 games over nine seasons.
At the end of 2018, Morris joined Cronulla-Sutherland - which he played 23 times for this season, taking his total to 286 games.
Throughout his illustrious career, the now 33-year-old has played for Australia (six times), the Prime Minister's XIII (three), NSW Country (three), the NRL All-Stars and NSW (15) - with his most recent appearance being in game one of the 2019 State of Origin Series.
5. Kiama's Brett Morris - Sydney Roosters
Twin brother of Josh, Brett also spent time at both Kiama and Gerringong during his junior days, before following in his father's footsteps to the Dragons.
Brett made his NRL debut one year earlier than his brother, lining up for the Red V in their round nine match against Cronulla-Sutherland (losing 30-12).
Unlike his brother though, Brett spent nine seasons with St George Illawarra, including a premiership in 2010.
During his career, which includes 252 NRL games, Brett has represented Australia (18), NSW (15), NRL All-Stars, NSW Country and Prime Minister's XIII.
He also finished as the competitions top try-scorer in 2009 with 25 four-pointers in 24 matches.
6. Albion Park-Oak Flats' Drew Hutchison - Sydney Roosters
Hutchison spent all of his junior career at the Albion Park Eagles' nest, including guiding his under 18s team to an undefeated Group Seven premiership in 2012, before moving into the Dragons' system.
After dominating for both the Dragons NYC team in 2013 and 2014, Hutchison played for both the NSW under 20s team and Junior Kangaroos - while also being named halfback of the 2014 NYC Team of the Year.
The next season, he went on to debut in round 18, in the Dragons loss to Cronulla-Sutherland (28-8) on July 12.
He went on to play two more games (round 23 and 26) that season for the Dragons.
In 2016, Hutchison only appeared once of the Dragons (round 25 vs Parramatta), before kicking the winning field goal for the Illawarra Cutters in their NSW Cup grand final win against Mounties (21-20).
During his time in the UK, Hutchison appeared 35 times for Leigh, before returning to Australia and penning a deal with the Sydney Roosters for 2019.
This season, Hutchison played four times for the Roosters (the first coming in round 13 against Penrith), while spending most of the season with their feeder club North Sydney.
7. Cooma's Sam Williams - Canberra Raiders
Sam Williams has been playing some of his best footy in 2019 and the Raiders have recognised his efforts with a two-year contract extension.
A Cooma Colt in his youth, Williams made the cut for the Raiders' National Youth Competition under 18s outfit in 2009 as an 18-year-old before going on to make the Junior Kangaroos and the Team of the Year in 2010.
Williams debuted for the Raiders in 2011 at age just 20 and would go on to try his hand at the Dragons, as well as successful stints in Super League for the Catalans Dragons and Wakefield Trinity.
After a few ups and downs at the Raiders, he signed a deal with Wakefield in 2017, but since returned to the Raiders on a two-year deal - that he has now extended to keep him at the Green Machine until 2021.
He's now played 90 games in the green jumper and has proven his worth as a kicking option with an 83 per cent hit rate on conversions, while his kicking metres close in on 20,000 for his career.
8. Gerringong's Korbin Sims - St George Illawarra Dragons
Just like his two brothers, Ashton and Tariq, Korbin started his rugby league journey at Michael Cronin Oval with the Gerringong Lions, before moving to Brisbane after signing with the Broncos as a 16-year-old - journey his older siblings at the club.
He then played for both the Queensland under 16s and under 18s teams, before making his Broncos' NYC debut in 2010, alongside Tariq.
The following year, Sims signed with Newcastle, going on to play 40 games for the club across two seasons - seeing him named in the Maroons inaugural team for the under 20s State of Origin match, the Junior Kangaroos team and NYC Team of the Year all in 2012.
In round three of the 2013 season, Sims made his NRL debut for the Knights against the Cowboys - a side featuring Ashton, in which Newcastle won 34-6 at Hunter Stadium.
Korbin, just like his two brothers and younger sister CJ, has represented Fiji in the international arena, being capped on eight occasions (including the 2013 World Cup) - and captaining the side against Lebanon earlier this year.
9. Kiama's Mitch Rein - Gold Coast Titans
Rein started his career with the Kiama Knights before being picked up into the Illawarra Steelers junior representative programs.
This excellent junior career, which included him winning the Steelers' Harold Matthews Player of the Year, saw him progress into the St George Illawarra Dragons under 20s set-up, where he played for them in 2009 and 2010 - including being named Dragons NYC Player of the Year in the latter.
The next year, in round one, the Kiama High School alumnus made his first grade debut against Gold Coast at Skilled Park - a match where he came on for the final 30 minutes and made 18 tackles.
This was the first of 132 appearances Rein made for the Red V from 2011 to 2016 - a stint which got him selected for NSW Country twice.
At the end of 2016, Rein penned a two-deal with Penrith - a club he played for five times during the 2017 season.
He spent most of that campaign in the Intrust Super Premiership, helping Penrith win the premiership and NRL State Championship - leading him to being named in the competition's Team of the Year.
Rein then ended his stint at the foot of the mountains early, following former Penrith NSW Cup coach Garth Brennan to the Gold Coast.
The 29-year-old has now played 42 games for the Titans over the past two seasons and is contracted at the club for next season.
10. Cobargo's Morgan Boyle - Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Morgan Boyle is made to be a front-rower, weighing in at 111kgs and standing a daunting 194 centimetres, he has previously been described as a front-row missile.
He played 17 games in his opening season after impressing the team and his coach - including his maiden try - but got a lot less game time in 2018 with just seven matches for the Titans ahead of a mid-season move to the Sea Eagles.
A couple of clubs were in the hunt for a forward, but Boyle said the Sea Eagles had shown a bit of faith in him and he was eager to put in the time for Sydney beaches outfit.
He's played big minutes in the Canterbury Cup, and has also featured 16 times for the Eagles this season off the interchange starting with a round six draw against his former club.
Contracted until 2021 with the Sea Eagles, Boyle said he was keen to get more aggressive with the ball and repay the club with good footy.
11. Gerringong's Tariq Sims - St George Illawarra Dragons
Tariq started his career at Gerringong as an outside back before following older brother Ashton and younger sibling Korbin to Brisbane, where he moved into the forwards and played for the Broncos NYC side for two seasons.
After being named as NYC Player of the Year in 2010, he and Ashton moved to the Cowboys - leading to him making his first grade debut in round two of the 2011 NRL season.
Sims, such was his impact in his first 20 games (2011), was a finalist for both Dally M Rookie of the Year and Best Second-Rower - as well as being shortlisted for the Rugby League International Federation's Second Rower of the Year - all despite suffering a broken leg in round 25 against Cronulla-Sutherland.
He made his return from injury in round five of the 2012 season, before making his representative debut for NSW Country soon after.
However, in a cruel twist of fate, Sims broke the same leg, in the exact spot in round 11 against Penrith.
After playing 27 times for the Cowboys during his first two injury-riddled seasons, Sims played another 54 for the club, before joining brother Korbin at Newcastle for the 2015 and 2016 campaigns.
The 29-year-old went on to play 27 times for the Novocastrians, before signing with the Dragons - a club he's played 76 matches for so far.
12. Milton-Ulladulla's Jack Murchie - Canberra Raiders
Murchie was born in Batemans Bay before playing all his junior footy with the Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs, and progressing to the Sydney Roosters' system.
After a couple of season with the Roosters' junior system, Muchie returned to Group Seven where he teamed up with the aforementioned Reuben Garrick and Jackson Ford to help the Gerringong Lions win the 2016 first grade premiership.
The back-rower's strong performances with Michael Cronin's troops helped him earn a deal with the Canberra Raiders under 20s set-up.
Later on that year, Murchie received the Gordon McLucas Memorial Junior Representative Player of the Year Award at the Raiders' presentation night, while also being named in the NYC Team of the Year.
It came on on July 20, as his Raiders lost 28-24 to Cronulla-Sutherland.
Murchie is contracted with the Raiders until the end of 2020.
13. Bega's Dale Finucane - Melbourne Storm
Bega Roosters' junior Dale Finucane was plucked by the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at just 17 and almost immediately showed his value at the club, winning the Player of the Year for his SG Ball Cup team.
He made the under 18s NSW squad that year and was also advanced to the Bulldogs' NYC squad where he would go on to play more than 60 games and be named in the NYC Team of the Year twice.
In 2011 he was rewarded with a Junior Kangaroos' jumper in their loss to New Zealand. Then in 2012 he made his NRL debut in round 13 for the Bulldogs against South Sydney and went on to play off the bench in the clubs' grand final loss to Melbourne.
He also played in NSW Country 's last-ever Country v City Origin clash alongside Euan Aitken and Adam Elliott.
Finucane scored his maiden try in 2013 and continued strong performances for the Bulldogs, appearing in all 25 games.
By the end of 2014 competition, the forward's playing time was impacting progression and he was given a contract release to join the Melbourne Storm.
He's since gone on to become royalty of sorts within the club as a premiership winner, a club veteran and vice-captain.
14. Gerringong's Jackson Ford - St George Illawarra Dragons
Ford, the fourth player on this list to star for Gerringong during their junior career (five if you include Murchie), played all his Group Seven footy at Michael Cronin Oval before progressing into the Steelers' system - where he played for both the SG Ball and Harold Matthews sides.
Then in 2017, he progressed into the Dragons' under 20s team, where despite missing the first six games of the season, was named the side's Player of the Year.
This led to the back-rower becoming an inaugural member of the Dragons' development player squad ahead of the 2018 season.
Ford, instead of playing in the under 20s again, spent most of his time with the club's NSW Cup/Canterbury side in 2018 - which he became a mainstay of over the next two seasons.
This was the first of five straight appearances in the Red V's top side.
The cherry on top for his breakout 2019 campaign was being named Canterbury Cup NSW Player of the Year and in the Team of the Year, alongside Albion Park-Oak Flats product Adam Clune.
15. Tathra's Adam Elliott - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Adam Elliott credits his time with the Tathra Sea Eagles as a big factor in him pushing for a spot in the NRL.
Elliott was a regular feature in junior rep duties and captained school boy sides, before signing with Cantebury-Bankstown at 17-years-of-age.
In 2013 and 2014 he played for the club in their NYC squad where he was later named captain and got a taste of training with the club's top squad in the hopes of a 2015 debut.
He also joined others from Group 16 in the Under 20s Origin.
However, Elliott's early career was marred by repeat injuries and his debut had to wait until 2016 when he appeared in round one against the Sea Eagles after a strong stint at the Auckland Nines.
Elliott has worked hard to put those events behind him and made 20 appearances for the Bulldogs in the 2019 season.
16. Moruya's Rhys Kennedy - Brisbane Broncos
Kennedy has done a little more club shuffling than some others on this list, starting his career towards the NRL with NYC appearances for the Melbourne Storm.
He then joined the Illawarra Cutters in the Intrust Super Cup in 2016 before heading to South Sydney feeder club North Sydney in 2017.
He only made one more appearance for the Bunnies before a mid-season move to the Brisbane Broncos.
He has since played seven rounds with the Broncos and hoping to build on his contract that should see him with the Brisbane club until the end of 2020.
17. Cooma's Jack Williams - Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
The Pambula-born, Cooma raised forward is one of the youngest on the list at just 23.
He's enjoyed a strong 2019 after making his debut with the Sharks in the 2018 season.
Williams made his debut appearance for the Cronulla club in round 10 against the Canberra Raiders and it would be his first of just four appearances that year.
However, solid pre-season work earned him a bigger role with the club throughout 2019, playing one game at lock and one at prop, while running off the interchange in 22 games.
The big man cleaned up two neat tries this season and has recently signed a contract extension to keep him at the Sharks until the end of 2022.
Co-coaches: Brad Arthur (Parramatta), Adam O'Brien (Newcastle) and Justin Holbrook (Gold Coast).
In a first for Group Seven/Group 16 Rugby League, there will be three South Coast products coaching in the NRL in 2020.
The first is Brad Arthur, who captained/coached the Batemans Bay Tigers in 1997 and 1998.
He started his NRL coaching career with Melbourne in 2007, where he spent time at the development coach, inaugural under 20s coach (2008) and assistant coach.
In 2011, he followed former colleague Stephen Kearney to Parramatta (as an assistant and caretaker coach), before eventually joining Manly-Warringah, at the start of 2013, as Geoff Toovey's right-hand man.
Later that year, after Ricky Stuart's departure, Arthur was offered the Eels' top job - a position had he has held since, recording 73-81 record over his six years at the helm.
The second South Coast coach is fellow Batemans Bay TigerAdam O'Brien.
After hanging up the boots, which included a stint in Group Seven during the early 2000s, O'Brien actually started his coaching career as Arthur's assistant with the Storm's NYC team.
He then progressed to the club's development coach and eventually Craig Bellamy's assistant, which he held for five seasons,
After 11 years with Melbourne, O'Brien moved to the Roosters in 2019, where he was Trent Robinson's side's attacking coach - guiding them to the premiership.
Last but not least, the final South Coast product is Milton-Ulladulla's Justin Holbrook.
After playing 17 NRL games with the Knights, Panthers and Roosters, Holbrook joined the Bulldogs and guided them to Group Seven premierships in 2004 and 2005.
When he hung up he playing boots, Holbrook had coaching stints on the staff at the Bulldogs, Dragons and Roosters - where he became Trent Robinson's lead assistant.
After all these gigs on Australian soil, including a stint with the national under 21 men's side, Holbrook joined UK club St Helens in 2017.
During his time overseas, he won 70 of his 87 matches, including victory in the 2019 Super League grand final - defeating Salford 23-6.
Following this victory, the 43-year-old return to Australia, where he signed on to be the Gold Coast Titans coach moving forward.