The season didn't finish the way Justin Toomey-White had hoped, but being recognised by Group 11 fans has still made it special.
Toomey-White has been voted the fans' Player of the Year after the Daily Liberal ran a poll following the COVID-enforced end of the 2021 season.
The Wellington Cowboys captain-coach received more than 31 per cent of the vote to be a clear winner.
"It was a good feeling when I saw that," Toomey-White said.
"It's nice to get acknowledged by the fans of Group 11. It's good and I was up against some really popular and talented players."
The Parkes Spacemen proved popular with voters as Bailey Hartwig was second in the poll behind Toomey-White with 16 per cent of the vote while teammate Jack Creith (9 per cent) was fourth.
Those two were separated by Dubbo CYMS standout Jeremy Thurston, who secured 12 per cent of the vote to finish third.
Rounding out the top five, in something of a surprise, was CYMS enforcer James Stanley.
Stanley had to make do with an honourable mention after missing out on our Daily Liberal Team of the Year but he proved hugely popular with fans.
Stanley came in fifth, ahead of the likes of Nyngan's Jeremy Smith, Macquarie captain-coach Alex Ronayne, and Fishies teammate Jarryn Powyer.
A new arrival at CYMS in 2021, Stanley made a huge impact with his new side and provided a huge amount of impact and aggression from the bench while he also earned a starting role on numerous occasions under coach Shawn Townsend.
CYMS finished as minor premiers this year while the Cowboys finished the regular season in second.
But Toomey-White and his side missed out on the chance to push for premiership glory after the COVID outbreak in NSW resulted in the finals series being scrapped.
Despite that, it was still a season to savour for Toomey-White.
The former Group 11 captain-coach hadn't taken to the field for the past two years as a cancer battle stopped him from playing in 2019, while COVID resulted in the entire 2020 season being abandoned.
Taking to the field in round and then getting a drought-breaking try in round two were special moments, but just playing the game he loves with close mates at Wellington was the feeling to savour.
"It had been two years in the making," he said.
"To be back on the field and in that battle and grind of rugby league was an achievement I set out to do.
"To be back in Group 11 was awesome. It was just a great feeling to be out there and pulling that maroon and white jersey on.
"The season didn't end how we wanted it to but it was really exciting leading up to the semi-finals.
"We did some awesome and exciting stuff on the field to build towards 2022."
Toomey-White won't have the chance to collect the official Group 11 Player of the Year prize this season after the Group 11 board decided to scrap the top awards in 2021 due to the uncertainty created by the COVID pandemic.
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