Day by day, we take an in-depth look at every member of the 2016 Intrust Super Premiership NSW Team Of The Year. The first prop is Cutters big man Shannon Wakeman.
The only Cutter to play more than 100 games in the competition, Wakeman’s consistency has seen the prop become a mainstay in Illawarra's charge to historic victories in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW and NRL Intrust Super State Championship.
Tough and uncompromising in the middle, Wakeman has been outstanding in both making tough yards with the ball and in bone-jarring defence. He has helped lay the platform up front for the likes of Dodd, Faifai Loa and Quinlan to do their thing out wide. Two highlights this year included a brace of tries against Newtown in Round 13 and a pin-point conversion attempt in his 100th game against the Wests Tigers the following week.
Wakeman played every game for the Cutters this year and has the stats to prove it: his 397 runs for 3,882 metres were the most of any player in the competition. He also made more metres after contact (1,274 metres) than any of his teammates or competitors and ran the third-most decoys (128).
At 26 years of age, Wakeman has passed the average debut age for an NRL prop – but with continued improvement the Dragons could do worse than to call him into the top grade next year.