Day by day, we take an in-depth look at every member of the 2016 Intrust Super Premiership NSW Team Of The Year. Hooking the scrum is Newtown's Kiwi dummy-half: Matt McIlwrick.
While the no.9 jersey in the Team Of The Year was a particularly contentious one among our expert panel, we went with Jets’ hooker McIlwrick in a points decision.
McIlwrick had a superb year individually and despite his team’s dip in form in the final weeks of the season, he remained the stand-out player. A well-earned double in Round 25 helped the Jets to one of the most memorable comebacks in their history, highlighting McIlwrick's never-say-die attitude.
His dummy-half running and clever kicking game from the ruck always had opposition defences wary, forcing them to try to keep the Kiwi quiet with targeted defence. With more metres made from dummy-half (1,016 metres) than any other player in the competition, he was constantly a threat in this area.
When handed the Jets’ captaincy following the departure of Mitch Brown, McIlwrick lifted his game yet again in the back half of the season. The arrival of Manaia Cherrington at the Sharks and Jets has prompted a swap for McIlwrick, who will call the Wests Tigers home in 2017.