Why each of the 10 Ken Catchpole Medal finalists deserves to win
The Ken Catchpole Medal will be awarded tonight at the Sydney Rugby Union awards night, with the best of the best to fight it out for the Shute Shield’s highest individual honour.
Votes are awarded by match referees on a 3-2-1 basis over the course of the regular season.
To preview tonight’s awards, we thought we’d take a look at why each nominee deserves to hear his name read out in a few hours time.
Kotoni Ale – Manly
Kotoni Ale has been in the top five best players of the competition for most of the past decade yet still hasn’t received the competition’s highest honour.
He led the competition for turnovers again in 2019.
Hamish Angus – Warringah
A two time winner already, Hamish Angus continues to make Super Rugby recruiters look silly with standout performances week after week at Rat Park.
Angus’ poise and class has been key in Warringah’s run to this weekend’s preliminary final. He also has the highest goal kicking percentage of any kicker in the competition.
Josh Holmes – Warringah
Like Ale, Holmes has dominated the Shute Shield for years but never received the top gong. That may have something to do with his halves partner stealing points from him.
The other three remaining No.9s in the competition – Jake Gordon, Mick Snowden and Mike Dowsett – have all stolen parts of their game from the Rats veteran.
Rob Lagudi – Eastwood
A two time premiership winner that could add a third title to his resume next weekend, Lagudi deserves the award not just for his work at set piece time, but also for his leadership.
In his first year as skipper, Lagudi has brought together a new look Eastwood team and turned them back into a premiership force.
The prop also knows how to score a try and celebrate after.
Mack Mason – Eastern Suburbs
It sounds as though every opposition coach left in the competition breathed a sign of relief when Easts fell short against Eastwood on Sunday.
Led my Mason at No.10, the Beasties were clicking at the right time of the year and on their day were one of the most entertaining sides to watch.
Still just 23, Mason had another strong campaign but is still only scratching the surface of his potential.
Enoka Muliufi – Eastwood
After joining the Woodies over summer, barnstorming centre Enoka Muliufi has been a revelation at TG Milner and given the Eastwood backline front foot ball to play with all season.
If Eastwood go on to win the premiership this year, Mulifui will be a big reason why.
Mitchell Short – Randwick
The Randwick No.9 recently inked a full time deal with the Waratahs following the departure of Nick Phipps.
While Randwick’s season didn’t quite go to plan, Short was one of the best on field week after week.
Hugh Sinclair – Northern Suburbs
Sinclair played his 100th first grade match on Saturday against Warringah and has been a key figure in the Northern Suburbs revival.
Just a few years back, wins were hard to come by at North Sydney Oval, but Sinclair led Norths back to the top of the competition and deserves recognition for that.
Dion Spice – West Harbour
West Harbour skipper Dion Spice will never forget the 2019 season. Despite falling short of a finals berth, Spice and the Pirates somehow managed to compete this year despite starting the season with almost an entirely new first XV.
It says a lot about his role as a leader and as the link between a new forward pack and new back line.
Connor Vest – Northern Suburbs
While a number of his Northern Suburbs teammates have got a crack at Super Rugby in recent years, Connor Vest is still waiting, despite consistently being one of Norths’ best.
The big lock deserves a Super Rugby contract and a Catchpole Medal may help him earn one.