Nick O’Sullivan missed a large chunk of the 2016 Central West AFL season but the impact he made when playing for the Dubbo Demons was so impressive he was named the competition’s best and fairest last Friday night.
After undergoing a knee reconstruction during the off-season, O’Sullivan missed the start of the season and took some time to get going while a trip overseas during the middle of the year meant he only played 13 of the 18 fixtures.
But all that wasn't enough to stop him from being named the best player of 2016.
“It certainly took me by surprise and I wasn’t expecting it,” he said.
“I’m extremely humbled because there are some really, really good footballers around but I think it speaks volumes about our team.
“There were a lot of guys around me who were a big part of why I played some good footy and this is an award we can all share.”
O’Sullivan played a huge role in the Demons’ run to third place on the ladder and alongside Jono Naden formed one of the league’s most lethal combinations.
The duo’s quality and the Demons resurgence as a whole was recognised at the awards night with Naden finishing equal third in the best and fairest award.
Bathurst Bushrangers Outlaw Bill Watterson was alongside Naden while fellow Outlaws gun Peter Grundy finished second behind O’Sullivan.
“It came as a surprise because there were so many standouts this season,” O’Sullivan said.
“I thought Jono Naden had a really, really strong year and there were a heap others.”
It was a good night all-round for the Dubbo club with leading female Demon Jane Winter finishing as runner-up behind Bathurst’s Keeghan Tucker in her best and fairest award while prodigiously talent youngster Bailey Challen was named joint winner of the under-14s prize and Rick and Stacey Walker were nominated for Volunteer of the Year.
“It was a fantastic result for the club and says a lot about how much we’ve improved and speaks volumes about the people at the club,” O’Sullivan said.
O’Sullivan kicked 13 goals for the season but the majority of his work was done getting his side out of trouble and setting up chances for others. The Demons fell short of making the grand final, beaten by the Rebels in the elimination semi but that disappointment will be used to help the side improve further in 2017.
“It was a fantastic year but it was a bit unfortunate we got knocked out in the first week of the finals,” he said. “But if you look at the competition and how we played in round two compared to how we finished and how we played in that six match winning streak it was two totally different teams.”