Star Pinjarra midfielder Rory O’Brien capped off his stunning return to local football by taking out the WA Country Football League (WACFL) West Coast Poly Player of the Year award ahead of fellow finalists Jace Cormack and Ben Whitsed last week.
The two-time WAFL premiership player made his way back to his club of origin, Pinjarra, to play with brothers Josh and Mackenzie (with fellow sibling Brock joining the trio mid-season), and went on to dominate the Peel Football and Netball League in 2018.
His season consisted of a best-on-ground performance in a grand final win over Centrals that saw the superstar snare three goals, while he also took home the Terry House medal as the WA State Country side’s best afield in their clash with South Australia.
He booted 18 goals across his 16 regular season games with the Tigers, but the gun mid said being surrounded by family made 2018 one of the most enjoyable seasons in his illustrious footballing career.
“To play with all three of my brothers was amazing,” he said.
“We all spoke on the morning of the grand final and that was something that was pretty special for us, and then winning the flag together was great for our entire family.
“Our mum and our partners were rapt, and our kids loved it, so that’s definitely what made this year special for me.”
O’Brien collected a trip to the AFL grand final for winning the WACFL’s player of the year honour, an unbeatable prize for someone who grew up barracking for the West Coast Eagles.
“We were pretty much right on the 50m line where (Dom) Sheed kicked the winning goal so it was pretty awesome,” he said.
“It was only my second time going to the MCG so to be there watching the Eagles win a flag was special.”
Footy won’t stop for the 2013 Sandover medalist over the summer, as he now heads into his second season playing for the Southern Districts Crocs in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL).
The Crocs’ season opens this Saturday, October 6, with a match against the Darwin Buffaloes with the regular rounds wrapping up in early February.
O’Brien will join fellow Pinjarra and ex-Peel Thunder teammate Leroy Jetta on the squad, as the pair make the trip north to play for the Crocs every second week.
“It’s definitely something different,” O’Brien said.
“Playing footy in the summer, in Darwin, it’s pretty harsh. But going up there with Leroy and (Peel Thunder captain) Gerald Ugle is something I really enjoyed.
“We’re all close and have played a fair bit of footy together so it should be pretty good.”
O’Brien and Jetta both played in the Crocs’ premiership-winning side earlier this year, alongside former AFL talents Jared Brennan, Richard Tambling and Mark Jamar.