ORANGE Hawks halfback Keegan Harding has made the shortlist of players in line to claim this year’s Group 10 Player of the Year award.
Stepping into the boots of last year’s Western Division halfback Scott Rosser, Harding has been a revelation in his first full-time gig in premier league, earning the call-up to start in the two blues’ No.7 for the firs time in the lead-up to his side’s premier league clash with Workies in Lithgow.
And, now, it’s a season he’s unlikely to forget.
A key component in Hawks’ stretch of nine-straight wins mid-year, Harding was one of Tim Mortimer’s best in last Saturday’s disappointing 30-22 elimination semi-final loss to Bathurst Panthers as well, and will be in attendance at the Group 10 Player of the Year awards night in Bathurst Friday week.
Harding played 13 games in 2014, scoring six tries, booting eight goals and slotting a field goal for the two blues.
The first-year halfback will be jostling with Mudgee duo Jared Robinson and Jack Afamasaga, the latter of which was leading the polls when voting went behind closed doors.
At that time Afamasaga was an unbackable favourite for the crown, but a leg fracture against Oberon in round 15 has derailed both his player of the year bid and the Dragons’ 2014 campaign.
Cowra skipper Ron Lawrence, Panthers pair Brent Seager and Blake Lawson and St Pat’s dynamos Garry Reilly and Benjamin John are also in contention to join elite company.
Oberon’s Zac Rowlandson is another bolter in line to challenge for the top gong.
Corin Smith appears a shoe-in to claim the top try scorer’s gong with 26 four-pointers this season, while Reilly is the competition’s leading point scorer and goal kicker with 149 points and 56 goals after 18 rounds of the 2014 regular season.
In the lower grade awards race, Hawks under 18s stars Deryne McKenzie and Jedd Kennedy are chances for the Group 10 juniors player of the year award, while CYMS girls Tori Moore and Nikki D’Aquino have enjoyed strong league tag campaigns and are in line for awards at the gala dinner.
Powering towards a first division grand final berth, CYMS trio Aaron Willis, Mitch Brown and Tom Stonestreet are in contention to clean up in the lower grade award stakes.
The Group 10 Player of the Year awards night will be held at Bathurst Panthers on Friday, September 5.
Group 10 Player of the Year:
2013 - Ben McAlpine (Orange CYMS).
2012 - Tim Bassmann (Orange CYMS).
2011 - Brendon Van Veen (Lithgow Workies).
2010 - Mick Sullivan (Orange CYMS).
2009 - Warick Colley (Mudgee Dragons).
2008 - Trent Hemsworth (Bathurst St Pat’s).
2007 - Dean Corrigan (Cowra Magpies).