POLL, GALLERY: Who made this year’s Blowes Clothing Cup’s most influential list?

POLL, GALLERY: Who made this year’s Blowes Clothing Cup’s most influential list? TOP 20: Number one – Forbes’ Mahe Fangupo

TOP 20: Number two – Dubbo’s Filisone Pauta

TOP 20: Number 3 – Orange City’s Feleti Wolfgramm

TOP 20: Number 4 – Parkes Boars’ Riley Byrne

TOP 20: Number 5 – CSU’s Cam Backhouse

TOP 20: Number 6 – Emus’ Isaac White

TOP 20: Number 7 – City’s Tatafu Na’aniumotu

TOP 20: Number eight – Narromine’s Luke Brown

TOP 20: Number nine – Bulldogs’ Peter Fitzsimmons

TOP 20: Number 10 – Nas Havealeta, Tom Goolagong, Steve Fergus, aka, Fernasagong

TOP 20: Number 11 – Forbes’ Jack Hammond

TOP 20: Number 12 – Cowra’s Dan Burnham (middle)

TOP 20: Number 13 – Dubbo’s Eli Kinscher

TOP 20: Number 14 – Cowra’s Chris Miller

TOP 20: Number 15 – Orange City’s Joe Lasagavibau.

TOP 20: Number 16 – Cowra’s Matt Spicer

TOP 20: Number 17 – Mudgee’s Adam Rayner

TOP 20: Number 18 – AJ Sykes, Orange Emus

TOP 20: Number 19 – Forbes’ Jarrod Hall.

TOP 20: Number 20 – Emus’ Sam McLean

TweetFacebookForbes Platypi (new entry)

THE easiest decision of the lot, Fangupo demands the No.1 spot.

There’d be few across the Central West who’d argue the fact either.

Fangupo’s move to Forbes’ scrum-base has revitalised the previously embattled Platypi, who in 10 rounds this year are one victory away from winning double the amount of games they won in the entire 2015 season.

Here’s the real clincher though, Fangupo has played in all seven of Forbes’ wins but he didn’t play in either of their losses, to Cowra and Orange Emus.

The proof’s in the pudding here, folks.

He’s a NSW Country Cockatoo too, just as a kicker.

2 FILISIONE PAUTA – Dubbo Kangaroos (new entry)

UNTACKLEABLE, that’s the best way to describe Pauta.

Another NSW Country Cockatoo, Pauta was quiet in his return to the Blowes Clothing Cup in 2015 but has returned to his barnstorming form of old so far this winter to lead ‘Roos to fourth after 10 rounds.

One of the strongest carriers in the competition, his ability to break tackles and create space is second-to-none.

He’s as strong a finisher as anyone else in the region and makes the job for those inside and outside him easier.

He’s slotted into No.10 recently too, proving his versatility.

3 FELETI WOLFGRAMM – Orange City Lions (new entry)

RARELY, if ever, are flankers known for their try-scoring abilities in the Blowes Clothing Cup

Wolfgramm’s bucking the trend.

He’s crossed the stripe 11 times so far in 2016, including a four-try haul against Dubbo Rhinos in round three.

Wolfgramm has completely come into his own on the side of the Lions’ scrum so far in 2016 and now the back having moved to No.8.

Dangerous and unpredictable with ball in hand, Wolfgramm’s been no slouch defensively either, but his purple patch of form has been truly highlighted by his exceptional support play.

Orange City’s best so far this season.

4 RILEY BYRNE – Parkes Boars (new entry)

BYRNE is the best fullback in the Central West.

Big statement, yes, and no doubt you were expecting that to be followed with something like “we’ll be saying that in two years’ time”.

It won’t be, fact is, he’s the best fullback in the competition now.

He proved that with his performance for Central West, which deservedly netted him a spot in the NSW Country Cockatoos squad.

His influence at Parkes comes with ball in hand, where he’s in a similar mould to the earlier-mentioned Cam Backhouse, although Parkes don’t get anywhere near as much possession as Byrne needs to be as effective as he could be.

In a better side, he’d be the competition’s leading try-scorer but without him, Parkes wouldn’t have gone close to winning a game.

5 CAM BACKHOUSE – CSU Bathurst (new entry)

HE’S small, unassuming and on face value if you put him up against most of the competition’s other custodians, you’d back the other guy.

But then you see him play, and my word, he is good.

From fullback, Cam Backhouse has given CSU Bathurst an unpredictable streak not seen since the days of Jack Garrad – when he wasn’t nursing hamstring problems, that is.

Backhouse’s fleet-footedness, elusive nature and tendency to throw caution to the wind have become his most dangerous assets in 2016 and he’s kept the students in games virtually on his own at times.

6 ZAC WHITE – Orange Emus (new entry)

ZAC White didn’t want to move from fullback in round four, he had his eyes on wearing No.15 full-time for Emus this year.

Even so, with his side desperately looking for a reliable, consistent inside centre White may as well have broken the door in with an axe and screamed “heeerrreee’s Johnny” his performance in round four – when he did shift from the back – was so good.

With it, he cemented his place at inside centre and has since been Emus’ best; he’s composed, rarely makes errors and always makes smart decisions, carries strongly and defends stoutly but most importantly, he’s taken the pressure off rookie pivot Todd Freedman, allowing the Englishman to take a bit of time to find his feet.

Expect White to only get better as Freedman becomes a more dominant fixture inside him.

7 TATAFU NA’ANIUMOTU – Orange City Lions (new entry)

YOU’RE probably thinking something along the lines of, “come on, he’s barely even played this season”.


The Lions have been good without being outstanding to sit third, but what they’ve been missing most from past seasons is that big, damaging ball-runner who can break the line, kick-start forward movements and create some space – Na’aniumotu basically.

With the backline they have, the more space the better.

When Na’aniumotu has played they’ve looked a much better side and the fact he’s watched on from the sidelines for much of the season has been as influential on the Lions’ campaign as anything, or anyone, else.

8 LUKE BROWN – Narromine Gorillas (new entry)

LUKE Browny Brown is Narromine, boom!

Well, putting Chaz Michael Michaels quotes aside, maybe that’s a bit unfair on the rest of the Gorillas, but you get the point – Narromine would be struggling a whole lot more if Brown hadn’t turned out this year.

The fact he hasn’t played a few games is testament to his influence on the Gorillas side considering he’s been best on ground in the games he has played.

Normally a back-rower, he’s slotted into the centres just as easily and his ability to read the game is second-to-none in the Blowes Clothing Cup – an attribute many have found out first hand after having their ribs tickled.

By the way, in this case tickled means all but broken.

9 PETER FITZSIMMONS – Bathurst Bulldogs (new entry)

SERIOUSLY underrated in a lot of circles, Fitzsimmons has been Bulldogs’ best week-in-week-out in 2016 and is just as adept in the hooking role as he is in the back-row.

He’s adopted more of a leadership role in 2016 and has been at his most dangerous at the breakdown, or in broken play – his work-rate and the sheer amount of turnovers he effects have been remarkable.

It’s simple, he’s been Bulldogs’ heart and soul this year.

Apparently he’s a handy darts player too, brilliant.


FOR this trio, to be henceforth known as Fernasagong – yes, like Brangelina – it all comes down to scrummaging.

Emus’ scrum was the best in the competition last year and it is again this year.

It’s not a coincidence that’s how long these three have been together.

They’ve eaten their opposition front-rows in 2016, consistently, and importantly held their nerve and ground under immense pressure from Cowra last weekend.

Without these three leading their march up-field at the set-piece Emus would be a very different side, they demand a place in the top 10 because of that.

11 JACK HAMMOND – Forbes Platypi (2015; 20th)

RANKED 20th in this list last year, Hammond’s been among the Platypi’s best in 2016 and has taken far more control in 2016, predominantly from outside centre.

In the No.13 jersey he’s provided Forbes with a classical outside centre but also added a factor of versatility to his game, slotting in as an extra play-maker when needed or reverting to a grinding, make-the-advantage-line style of rugby if he’s had to.

Tough, durable and an exceptional leader.

12 DAN BURNHAM – Cowra Eagles (2015; 12th with Gabe Brown)

“I’VE been really impressed with Dan Burnham … he’s shone in the front row”, Cowra coach Troy Hayes said that leading into the side’s round 10 clash with Emus.

He’s not the only one.

Burnham’s returned to the front of the Eagles’ scrum without 2015 partner-in-crime Gabe Brown, meaning the burly prop has had to take on even more responsibility at Cowra’s set-piece.

He’s done so with aplomb, never more than last Saturday afternoon in the Endeavour Oval slop where he and his fellow Eagles matched it with the reigning premiers for 65 minutes.

They were the first side to seriously test Emus’ scrum for a full game though, thanks largely to Burnham, who has also bettered his opposite number in almost every other game as well.

13 ELI KINSCHER – Dubbo Kangaroos (new entry)

ONE word – effective.

In the same ilk as Fitzsimmons, Kinscher’s been effective in everything he’s done in 2016 and he’s been ‘Roos most consistent by a street.

Details of his exploits aren’t really necessary here Kinscher is that highly regarded around the competition.

A good indicator of his worth and influence this season, and in past seasons to be fair, is how high his standing is with teammates.

They trust him completely on the field, and word is they reckon he’s the type of flanker that go anywhere he wanted to in the sport – if he had the desire, of course.

14 CHRIS MILLER – Cowra Eagles (2015; 16th)

THE third and final NSW Country Cockatoo in this list, Miller’s influence has been minimised a bit in 2016 because the responsibility has been spread and he hasn’t had to do as much individually.

He’s still had a massive impact though, particularly via his captaincy.

Where Miller goes the Eagles follow.

Labelled Mr Consistency in this list last year, nothing’s changed, he still does everything and he does it well.

Although, he’s taken his set-piece play to another level in 2016.

Without his leadership and direction, there’s real potential Cowra would fall in a heap.

15 JOE LASAGAVIBAU – Orange City (2015; 8th)

HE’S been somewhat quiet this year, or maybe that’s just been a lack of consistency because he’s played nigh on every backline position so far in 2016.

Make no mistake though, his quiet games have the been the equivalent of everyone else’s blockbusters.

Forget explaining, he’s just a freak and the Lions wouldn’t be coming third if he wasn’t in their side, he is that good even though he hasn’t been at his absolute best.

As Orange City inevitably continue to improve, he’ll become more and more dominant.

16 MATT SPICER – Cowra Eagles (new entry)

WAS relatively unknown when he was selected for Central West earlier in the year but has well and truly stamped his authority on the competition so far this year.

To put it simply, he’s found the line. A lot.

Incredibly strong, Spicer has proven so far this year having a dominant winger is just as important to a side as any other position.

He’s made metres for fun and outside his try-scoring exploits his best asset is his work-rate, he refuses to wait and let the game come to him, preferring to look for work and make an impact no matter what the situation.

17 ADAM RAYNER – Mudgee Wombats (new entry)

MUDGEE’S ultimate jack-of-all-trades, he can do it all and has done for Mudgee this year.

He’s a natural back-rower so he’s strong with the ball, whacks in defence and has a good presence at the breakdown but add in the fact he throws lineouts with the best of them – he can hit a six ball for fun, even under pressure – and has one of the biggest boots in the competition and you can see why he’s been Mudgee’s most influential player this year.

The Wombats’ Mr.Fix-It.

18 AJ SYKES – Orange Emus (new entry)

THIS year’s surprise-packet, considering he’s replacing Graydon Staniforth in the greens’ No.15 jersey I doubt many would’ve expected to see him on this list.

He’s here though, and for good reason.

Sykes, a rugby league convert, has been one of Emus’ best in terms of manufacturing turning points in games this year and converting pressure into points – basically, when he’s popped up, he’s had an impact.

He’s super composed, his decision-making is flawless and you could count the number of errors he’s made this year on one hand, giving Emus reliability and consistency at the back.

Most importantly, his teammates trust him unwaveringly under pressure – that’s huge.

19 JARROD HALL – Forbes Platypi (new entry)

FORBES’ set-peice has been one big reason they’ve started the season well and you’d be forgiven for assuming having Heamani Lavaka as a coach is the reason for that.

I mean, he is largely the reason but for a coach to light a fire under a team he needs a spark.

Forbes’ spark when it comes to the set-piece is hooker Jarrod Hall.

His scrummaging is second-to-none of the competition’s rakes, his lineout execution is superb, he’s tough with the ball in hand and even tougher with it.

He’s also a maniac, which helps.

20 SAM McLEAN – Orange Emus (new entry)

EMUS second-rower Sam McLean – known as ‘The Butch’ or ‘The Raging Bull’ to teammates – isn’t a game-breaker, he hasn’t scored runaway tries, broken ribs in defence or nailed sideline conversions to win games.

He’s sure as hell influenced Emus’ 2016 campaign though, massively, it’s just that most people haven’t seen how.

McLean’s a traditional dogged, gritty lock, whose biggest influence comes in what are known in sporting circles as “the one-per-centers”.

I’m talking Emus’ initial go-forward, their line-speed, their kick-chase, their intensity, their attitude, their efficiency at the breakdown in both attack and defence … I can keep going if you like?

Have you say … who is the 2016 Blowes Clothing Cup’s most influential player?

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