THE durable James Brown and the creative pocket rocket Nita Maynard have been named the Macquarie Uni Sydney Rays players of the year for 2017 at a special award function.
Brown’s experience and high work rate was recognised by the Rays after a stellar season that saw him play a key role throughout the National Rugby Championship season.
The Fijian-born flanker and lock played a key role in the latter half of the Rays season that saw them defeat semi-final bound teams, the Perth Spirit and the Fijian Drua in Suva.
The diminutive Maynard got the Rays women’s sevens gong for her efforts throughout the Aon Uni 7s series that saw here named in the Dream Team named by Aussie coach Tim Walsh.
Maynard, who juggles her sporting career with motherhood and a full time job, was the Rays first receiver for much of the Uni 7s series, setting up plays and directing the troops in defence.
Rays women’s sevens head coach Nathan McMahon said: “Nita’s just fearless and along with our captain Emily Chancellor she was first picked for every tournament that we played in 2017.
“There’s not much of Nita but she just gives it her all and you can see in the eyes of the girls she tackles that they are intimated by her enthusiasm and hard edge attitude.”
Both Maynard and Rays teammate Raecene McGregor are in the New Zealand women’s side that will contest the inaugural World Cup that starts later this week.
Brown was head coach Julian Huxley’s “Mr Fix It” in the forwards throughout the 2017 NRC playing all three back row positions as well as lock at different times.
He stayed on in Fiji after the Rays finished their season with the exciting victory over the Drua in steamy Suva.
Rays men’s head coach Julian Huxley praised the efforts of Brown at the presentation function started in the city last week.
In a season where injury hit the men’s side hard Huxley said that Brown was one of the stable influences throughout the squad.
He’s one of those guys that you would love playing with and hate playing against, Huxley said.