A three-goal blitz and a silky midfield performance has netted James Willsher and John Paulin best-on-ground honours in Nirranda’s 31-point victory over Old Collegians on Saturday.
Paulin received the Scotty Stewart Media Award and Willsher was named the AFL Victoria Country medal winner, which is voted by the umpires, after leading the Blues to a 10.11 (71) to 5.11 (41) grand final victory.
Willsher, who finished with three goals, said his performance was credited to his positioning in the forward line.
“Our forward line, as everyone knows is pretty prominent,” he said.
“So I found a bit of space with everyone worrying about Big Show (Gary Robinson), Trav (Graham) and Jesse (Dalton) so I got pretty lucky.”
Paulin, who was influential in the Blues’ engine room, said it was a gritty midfield battle for most of the encounter.
“It was pretty tough, they are always a good opposition,” he said.
“They have always got a heap of legs and they are tough to run with but we got the job done.”
The pair both featured in Nirranda’s last premiership victory in 2016.
Willsher said the Blues had brought their best for the final game of the season.
“It’s unreal and an awesome win, it’s the the best quarter of footy we have played all year,” he said.
“We dropped off a bit in the last quarter but it’s just unreal.”
Paulin said he enjoyed the experience of both premiership wins he had been involved in.
“It’s not as good as that one (2016) as we were coming from fifth and hadn’t played finals in over 16 years,” he said.
“But this is still good, don’t worry about that.”
Paulin said everything aligned for the Blues’ players this season.
“Everything just gelled this year,” he said. “Last year people were missing out on positions but this year everyone has come together and it’s been really good.”
The pair, who also shared the victory with their respective brothers Dylan Willsher and Will Paulin, said they were still hungry for more premiership success.
Paulin said off-season recruits Travis Graham, Aaron Searle and Isaac Templeton had slotted in well to the Blues’ line-up.
“The calibre of players that Trav and Tempy are they can fit in anywhere. They are just guns,” he said.