Claudia Rodwell was shocked but no one else was when the BNC midcourter was named Newcastle Netball Association's Most Valuable Player as the modified season drew to a close at National Park on Saturday.
The Central Coast 22-year-old produced consistently strong form in her second season in Newcastle championship to earn the coveted Lois and Nola Green Medal, which is voted on each round by opposition coaches.
"I am very surprised," Rodwell told the Newcastle Herald on Saturday. "I'm happy with where I am with my netball and just want to keep improving and playing with my friends. I'm looking forward to next year, really building on my game as a player and as a team."
BNC player-coach Victoria Aoake relied heavily on Rodwell in a rebuilding season for Whanau, who finished the eight-round competition sixth.
"Claudia prefers to play at wing defence but I've used her at centre, just because she's fit enough and the most suited to that position in our team at the moment," Aoake said.
"I'm not surprised at all. She's had a really good season and has been really consistent. She first played in the competition last year and we were just lucky enough to get her."
Rodwell earned selection in this year's Newcastle open team, who will not get the chance to defend their NSW title due to the coronavirus global pandemic.
Newcastle opens coach Traci Baber, who also mentors University of Newcastle, described Rodwell as "an amazing player".
"She's been in my University nationals team for three years now and she's a stand-out," Baber said.
University of Newcastle finished on top of the championship standings after completing an unbeaten season with a 41-19 win over Kotara South on Saturday. University led 8-5 at the end of the first quarter, 18-7 at half-time and 28-12 heading into the final period.
While disappointed there was no finals this year, Baber was looking forward to building on their 2020 efforts next year.
"We've had a great year and everyone has played their part," Baber said.
"It's been a really good training session for next year and it's given the girls confidence. They now know that it's not, 'How am I going to play against that player?', it's everybody wondering how they're going to play against us, and they believe in themselves."
Souths were crowned inaugural club champions, which is tallied from points across the championship, opens and 23s divisions.
The Lions beat Inner Glow 38-16 in final-round action on Saturday, Nova defeated Junction 47-23 and West Leagues Balance downed BNC 56-34.
Round 8 results:
University of Newcastle beat Kotara South 41-19. Q1: Uni led 8-5; Q2: Uni led 18-7; Q3: Uni led 28-12.
Souths beat Inner Glow 53-24. Q1: Souths led 14-3; Q2: Souths led 28-11; Q3: Souths led 38-16.
Nova beat Junction 47-23. Q1: Nova led 15-4; Q2: Nova led 27-10; Q3: Nova led 41-15.
West Leagues Balance beat BNC Whanau 56-34. Q1: West led 15-9; Q2: West led 27-14; Q3: West led 42-22.
University 24, Souths 22, Nova 20, West 18, Inner Glow 14, BNC 12, Kotara South 10, Junction 8.