Months after being named Group Nine’s best player in reserve grade, Hayden Diggins is leading the Weissel Medal count after the first half of the season.
The Junee hooker and Tumut enforcer Zac Masters are locked on 14 votes after the first eight rounds of the competition.
Diggins was surprised to be figuring so high.
“It’s very, very unexpected,” Diggins said.
After changing jobs, the 24-year-old credits a more normal lifestyle for his better form after just “mucking around” in reserve grade last season.
“I’m not on shift work anymore and gone back to regular living,” he said.
“It’s been really good to be back playing regular first grade for Junee, where I belong I think.”
The pair are four clear of the chasing pack led by Kangaroos fullback Tristan Dickson, with his coach Ben Jeffery in fourth on eight votes.
Masters has had a big impact since returning home to his junior club this season.
He was selected in the Country under 23s team and has been the leader the Blues back.
Co-coach Dean Bristow was far from surprised to see his name at the top.
“I’d be surprised if he wasn’t,” Bristow said.
“After losing our other front rower early in the season (Dan Kilian) he has been huge for us.
“He’s playing close to 80 minutes each week and easily topping our tackle our hit up count every week plus being the top tryscorer.
“It is pretty good what he is doing.”
Players from Gundagai have dominated the most recent medal counts with James Smart, Brett Eccleston and James Luff successful over the past three seasons, but it looks set for a changing on the guard.
Meanwhile Young’s Matt Murray has a commanding lead in the reserve grade count.
The half is on 15 votes, seven clear of his nearest rivals.
Junee’s Geoffrey Bush, Gundagai’s Mark Eccleston and Southcity’s Ben Lucas are next best and all locked on eight votes.
Temora’s Emily Perrot has some work to do if she is going to make it three leaguetag Weissel Medals in a row.
Cootamundra’s Kristen Byrne leads the way on 13 votes, one clear of Maddison Dunn (Brothers).
Rebecca Lally (Kangaroos) and Sophia Gaynor (Temora) are equal third with nine.
In the Weissel Cup, Young pair Jacob Lucas and Nicholas Hall are locked on 10 votes each, two clear of Southcity’s Rhys Weldon while in the Sullivan Cup there is a three-way tie for the lead with Aidan Connell (Albury), Joel Tracey (Southcity) and Harry Fitzpatrick (Young) all on nine.