GALLERY: The 20 most influential players so far in the 2014 Group 10 competition

CENTRAL Western Daily sport journalist Nick McGrath has seen a lot of Group 10 footy this year.

So he's well and truly qualified to identify the 20 most influential players in the season so far.

At the top of the pile Nick has selected Mudgee Dragons player-coach Jack Afamasaga.

The inspirational leader's team-mates Corin Smith, Jared Robinson, Tim Condon and Tom Lewsley join their skipper in Nick's list.

Check out who makes the cut and then have your own say in our poll.

1. Jack Afamasaga (Mudgee Dragons): One of those players who, for a long time, looked like Tarzan but played like Jane. Not this year. Since assuming the coach's role at Mudgee in 2014, Afamasaga has turned into the premier forward in Western Division, and his form reversal after what was a dismal 2013 is the catalyst behind the Dragons' resurgence this season. Could carry them to the Group 10 premiership this season.

2. Corin Smith (Mudgee Dragons): Redefining the term electric, Smith has scored 19 tries in eight games this season and is the runaway favourite to claim this year's Group 10 leading try-scorer gong. Has scored a double or more in each of the opening eight rounds this season and while ever Smith is finding the line seemingly at will, the Mudgee club will remain instilled as 2014 Group 10 premiership favourites.

3. Benjamin John (Bathurst St Pat's): The best rake in Group 10, John's work rate in and around the ruck is unmatched in the competition. A former Papua New Guinea international and 2014 Western Division star, the dynamic hooker also gives St Pat's some unrivalled spark out of the acting half position, a trait the nuggetty rake has lifted the blue and whites to third on this year's ladder. Still finding his feet, if John fires come August then St Pat's are serious premiership contenders.

4. Dan Stuart (Orange CYMS): When Stuart has been on the field for CYMS this year, the defending premiers have looked a far better team. Blinding speed and an incredible step, Stuart's signing has given the defending Group 10 premiers much needed spark out wide following the departures of premiership winners Dom Maley and Ali Beale. The more Stuart plays, the better CYMS will go in 2014.

5. Jeremy Gordon (Cowra Magpies): They say a change is as good as a holiday, and Gordon's move from Bathurst St Pat's to Cowra has re-invented one of the more damaging backs in Group 10. Shifting to fullback, Gordon has given the Magpies a third ball-player in attack and in such a role was instrumental in Cowra's win over CYMS at Wade Park, the club's first big scalp in a promising 2014 season. A handy goal kicker with 17 this season, if Gordon's form continues to improve at the back Cowra will push CYMS, St Pat's and Mudgee at the back end of the year.

6. Jared Robinson (Mudgee Dragons): Mudgee's fullback for the last five years, Robinson's best position has always been hooker - and he's proven that this season. Crisp service and a timely darter out of dummy half, Robinson is making a happy knack out of getting his giant forward pack on the front foot early in each set of six.

7. Garry Reilly (Bathurst St Pat's): The Group 10 new-comer impressed immediately on this year's competition, named halfback in the Western Rams trial agaisnt Group 11 in May. A live wire at five-eighth for club side St Pat's, Reilly holds the keys to the Saints fortunes out wide this season and if he's able to unleash his outside backs come the business end of the season, the Bathurst club could be looking at its first grand final appearance since 2008.

8. Ben McApline (Orange CYMS): Last year's Group 10 player of the year has had a mixed start to the 2014 premiership, and McAlpine's ups and downs have directly mirrored the fortunes of his club side CYMS. When on there's no more dangerous player in Group 10, and should the Western Division three-quarter rediscover his mojo over the back end of the season, the green and golds will prove nigh on unstoppable in their quest for back-to-back titles.

9. Tim Condon (Mudgee Dragons): Every orchestra needs a conductor, and Mudgee's 2014 symphony is being beautifully led by halfback Tim Condon. Not the most flashy player in Group 10 - does he need to be with the brilliance at the club's disposal out wide? - Condon's resumption of the No.7 jersey this season has given the Dragons stability and his combination with Jeremy Lang in the halves has been more than fruitful thus far.

10. Tim Holman (Cowra Magpies): A lot like Gordon, Holman's attacking presence is lifting Cowra to a new level in 2014. A renowned pivot with immense representative credentials, Holman's combination with fellow half Ricky Whitton will prove telling in the Magpies' bid to seriously contend for this year's Group 10 title. Has scored eight tries to trail only Smith in the try-scoring stakes in 2014.

11. Brent Seager (Bathurst Panthers): Bumper performances with both Group 10 and Western Division have reaffirmed what everyone within the Group 10 competition already knew - Seager is one of the most promising props in bush footy. A huge man with a massive motor, Seager's go-forward is keeping Bathurst Panthers in the hunt for a place in the finals this season. One of the truly magnificent sights in the Group, there's nothing better than a Brent Seager bell-ringer. 

12. Steve Lane (Oberon Tigers): After a year in first division with Bathurst Panthers, the Steve Lane of old has returned to premier league football with the Oberon Tigers this season. A veteran five-eighth, Lane's composure is exactly what the youthful Tigers needed to be a threat in this year's Group 10 premiership race, he proved just that when he booted two field goals in his side's first two wins, both by one point. Will continue to push for fifth-place as long as Lane is at his wily best.

13. Joe Lasagavibau (Orange Hawks): Started the year at five-eighth with Hawks but it's no coincidence his return to the custodian's role has brought about a two blues boom over the last three weeks of the season. A constant threat with the ball in hand, Lasagavibau's presence is one Tim Mortimer's side must continue to use to remain in front of a finals log-jam that includes Blayney, Oberon and Bathurst Panthers.

14. Paleatime Ale (Bathurst St Pat's): Size and strength make St Pat's backrower Pale Ale one of the most damaging players in the Group 10 competition in 2014. A giant of a man, Ale's ability to offload in traffic makes him a constant attacking threat, one opposition defences are still struggling to contain. Won a Group 10 jersey in his first year in the competition after a stellar start to the season.

15. Terawhiti Cooper (Blayney Bears): On his day, Group 10's most destructive forward. Now captain-coaching the Blayney Bears, Cooper has proved some doubters wrong by guiding the Bears to two draws and the club's first win in 14 seasons this season. Can carry a side from prop, and will have to if the Bears are to push for a miracle place in this year's finals.

16. David Howard (Bathurst St Pat's): Of all the new faces at Bathurst St Pat's in 2014, Howard is the one providing the blue and whites with significant X-factor. A bullocking runner of the football, the damaging centre previously tore apart the Centennial Coal Cup competition as the Wallerawang Warriors' best player, and this season has proven he's far from out of his depth in Group 10. A handful to tackle, should be the Saints' go-to man out wide later in the year.

17. Blake Tidswell (Cowra Magpies): All of the firepower in Cowra's backline this year will amount to little more than a puff of smoke if the Magpies forwards don't aim up. Luckily for Steve Sutton and the Cowra faithful, they can count on Tidswell to do just that for them each week. An unsung hero for years, the Magpies' chief prop has been magnificent for them through eight rounds this season and must keep muscling up to help catapult Cowra into premiership contention.

18. Tom Lewsley (Mudgee Dragons): A surprise packet in 2014, Lewlsey has gone quietly about his business to earn a Group 10 and Western Division representative jumper in 2014. Has kicked 26 goals and scored three tries in Mudgee's undefeated start to the season, and if called upon in pressure situations later in the year, will no doubt handle the occasion at Glen Willow.

19. Tim Mortimer (Orange Hawks): No Rosser, no Barrow, no Cooper, no worries. Orange Hawks have put together back-to-back wins to jump into fifth on this year's ladder heading into the long weekend, and Mortimer dished up his best performances in two blues colours to help his side knock-off St Pat's in their last start. At home at five-eighth, Mortimer must lift again to fend off a host of challenges for a top-five berth.

20. Charlie Leaeno (Lithgow Workies): A sad sight if you're from Lithgow, but one player in the top 20 is probably generous for the Workies club at the moment. Leaeno is a former Canterbury Bulldogs enforcer who has led from the front for his new club at the foot of the mountains, and in a side that's enjoyed just one win in 2014, he's often been forced to play a lone hand.


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