Shannon Wakeman wants NSW Cup title for Illawarra Cutters



The Cutters' Shannon Wakeman won his side's best player award last week. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

The Cutters' Shannon Wakeman won his side's best player award last week. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

RUGBY LEAGUE

The Illawarra Cutters' best player Shannon Wakeman says cracking a game in the NRL is still the goal, but a NSW Cup premiership would be just as satisfying.

Wakeman, 24, is preparing to embark on a tough finals campaign with the Cutters as they strive for their first title.

The club has enjoyed its best season this year, returning 13 wins to finish the home-and-away campaign in fourth place.

There will be no easing into finals, however, as the Cutters go straight up against minor premier Penrith at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.

The Panthers have beaten the Cutters twice already this year.

They sunk Illawarra by a field goal in round 12 and won 28-22 in round 14.

Wakeman knows Sunday will be no walk in the park but is confident the Cutters can break through to roll the competition favourite.

"I'm pretty confident that we can beat them, we've got a good side," Wakeman said.

"But any team in this competition can be good on their day.

"You see Wyong, we were beating them and all of a sudden they came back to beat us.

"Any team is a contender, it doesn't matter which position you finish, you're a contender."

Wakeman will enter the finals series with an added injection of confidence after taking out the Cutters's top gong at the awards night last Saturday.

He was adjudged best player for the season and accepted his award in front of a packed Victory Room at WIN Stadium.

"I was pretty nervous when I had to give a speech, I thought 'What do I say?' and just got stage fright," Wakeman laughed.

"I was very proud to get the award."

Despite being the Cutters's longest-serving player, the award marked the first time Wakeman has been officially recognised as the team's best servant.

Illawarra coach Scott Logan paid him credit.

"He's brought a lot of energy to the side . . . and played big minutes for a middle," Logan said. "I don't think it was any surprise to anyone that he won that award."

With one piece of silverware under his belt, Wakeman says he still wants to play a game at the top level.

He was called into the Dragons's training squad earlier this season but is yet to sneak into the NRL side.

"I'd love to play a first-grade game," Wakeman said.

"End goal is always to play NRL, but right now I'm focused on playing for the Cutters and finishing the year strongly."

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