AT the halfway point of the Group 10 season, injured Orange CYMS star Ben McAlpine remains in the hunt for the premier league Player of the Year award.
Despite an inconsistent start to 2014, McAlpine has earned seven votes from the opening eight rounds of the season.
Mudgee skipper Jack Afamasaga leads the polling, with 16 votes, six votes clear of next best Bathurst St Pat’s hooker Benjamin John and Bathurst Panthers’ wrecking-ball Brent Seager, who hold equal second spot on 10.
McAlpine is in equal fourth place with Mudgee’s try-scoring phenom Corin Smith, who has scored 19 four pointers so far, averaging over two tries per game.
The green and golds have two other representatives in the top 20, with Kyran Bubb and Jarrod Robinson each polling three votes so far.
Bubb said in his current form, Afamasaga will be hard to catch.
“If Mudgee keep winning, he’ll be the main reason for it,” he said.
“Him or Corin Smith anyway. Jack is just way too good, he’s hard to stop and the way he offloads is incredible. He deserves to be that far ahead.”
Bubb said McAlpine, who won the award last season, and Group 9’s top gong in 2012, is expected to poll well with several home games in the last third of the year, and remains a strong chance.
“Anything can happen,” Bubb said.
“Macca is a bit out of sorts, so if he stays injury free from here on he’s always a chance.”
CYMS are also dominating the first division and league tag polling, with Mitchell Brown (six points), Nic Law (four), Scott Piper, Chris Jones and Luke Morris (all three) all inside the reserve grade top 20, while Holly Gibson has polled 10 votes in the women’s competition to sit in second place. Tori Moore (eight) and Olivia Patterson (four) are also in the mix.
Despite Hawks having no top graders inside the top 20, the two blues dominate the under 18s polling with Max Wolfson (eight) leading the charge, and Tony Pellow trailing by just one vote. Deryne McKenzie (three) sits equal 11th.
Hawks veteran Glen Bunworth is two blues’ only player in the first division top 20, with six votes.