THERE'S no doubting the 2020 Illawarra Rugby season was one of the most unique in recent memory.
No finals were played this season due to COVID-19, seeing Avondale take home the inaugural Peter Woods Challenge Shield, while there was no third grade competition contested.
Despite all that, Steven Brandon and his Shoalhaven Rugby Club produced one of their best campaigns on the pitch in the past decade - as the club finished the season in third position.
"As strange as the year was, I honestly believe it was one of the strongest I've ever been a part of at the club," Brandon, the reigning co-Illawarra Rugby Player of the Year, said.
"Having now strung a couple of strong seasons together, combined with success at both sevens and 10s tournaments, I feel we are heading in the right direction as a club.
"I believe we can really challenge the top teams in 2021 because there is a solid mixture of experienced and youthful players to make us a dangerous proposition every time we step on the field."
Another reason for Brandon to go into 2021 full of confidence is he recently took home the club's Player of the Year - which he first won in 2019.
"It's such an honour to be given Shoalies' Player of the Year again because it's a club I love playing for and putting all of my energy into," first grade skipper Brandon said.
"Because I know from the committee to all the players, they all do the same for the teams each season."
The two other major club awards announced recently went to Steven's brother Mark Brandon (most points scored) and Greta Lewis (Clubperson of the Year).
Other recipients this season include Aaron McDonnell (Best and Fairest First Grade Back), Duncan Maddinson (Best and Fairest First Grade Forward), Stu Scribberas (Best and Fairest Second Grade Back), Adam Sargent (Best and Fairest Second Grade Forward), Lorcan Edwards-Villalta (Most Improved Second Grade Player) and Tyson Sue (Second Grade Player's Player) - with Irish trio McDonnell, David Priestman and Michael Raftery all being award club thank you medallions.
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