It seems most New Era Cup sides have their best player wearing the number 13 jersey so it comes as no surprise that five of the top ten players are locks.
It’s also not shocking that the first-placed Blackheath Blackcats feature prominently in the top ten as the mountain men have scored 158 more points than any other side.
1. Matt Ranse (Blackheath Blackcats)
SHOCKING STAT ALERT… Matt Ranse has scored 19 tries in seven games for the Blackcats and leads the league in points... and he isn’t even the goal kicker.
There’s no doubt the formidable lock has what it takes to play first grade for the very best sides in the central west but the dynamic youngster runs around with his mountain mates on Saturday instead, and makes an absolute killing.
Not only does he play 80 minutes every week and seldom misses tackles, he’s got the pace to burn just about any outside back in the competition.
If you’re a group 10 side looking to recruit for next season, circle Matt Ranse.
2. Ben Gosper (Orange Barbarians)
If you’re about to take a hit-up against the Orange Barbarians, your best bet is to avoid Benny Gosper.
The former Orange CYMS title winner is the best low tackler in the competition and channels his inner Jack De Belin every time he’s near a ball carrier.
And just like the lock who proceeded him on the list, Gosper normally plays out the 80 minutes.
With a second half hat-trick against the Kandos Waratahs in his wake, Gosper will need to keep performing at a high level if his side is any chance of knocking off Blackheath.
3. Jesse Lualua (Blackheath Blackcats)
They don’t come niftier than Jesse Lualua.
He could probably score four tries a game if he wanted to but the flashy five-eighth finds himself laying on four-pointers more often than he scores them.
Blackheath’s end-of-season highlight reel will have Lualua’s fingerprints all over them as he’s good for at least one behind-the-back off-load per game and multiple line-break assists.
4. William ‘Billy’ Dickinson (CSU Mungoes)
You won’t ever hear him tell you this, but Billy Dickinson is the best fullback in the New Era Cup.
No one epitomises ‘right place, right time’ like he does and even though there’s not much of him, he’s a handful to even slow down.
The youngster from Leeton gets better every time he plays and he’s a perennial crowd favourite at Diggings Oval – for a good reason.
5. Ethan Parsons (Kandos Waratahs)
If you take Blackheath out of the equation, Ethan Parsons has scored more points and tries than anyone in the competition.
He’s also scored two four-pointers in two appearances against the Cats and slotted five from five conversions in his side’s 30-26 upset against Orange Barbarians in round seven.
When the redhead decides to run, you’d better be on your toes.
6. Mitchell Britt (Orange Barbarians)
Consider Britt a poor man’s Kalyn Ponga.
When the number six gets the ball and skips down the left edge, you can’t help but think about the Newcastle Knights’ superstar.
A former Blayney Bears recruit, Britt has found his home down the left side of Orange’s attack and is just about the best back in their side.
7. Kyle Willmott (Portland Colts)
Kyle Willmott is as tough as nails and anchor’s Portland’s sizeable forward pack.
He wreaked havoc in both games against CSU and will be looking to push the Colts into the post-season in the next three weeks.
8. Todd Pattison (CSU Mungoes)
Dubbed by his teammates as Mr Versatile, first-year student Todd Pattison has made waves for the Mungoes in 2018 and will be someone to look out for in years to come.
He rarely misses tackles and can play virtually anywhere on the paddock.
9. Joshua Hayton (Blackheath Blackcats)
Who said you need to be big to play front row?
Hayton, who weighs no more than 90KG soaking wet, can be found charging the ball back from the kick-off or making the tough tackles in the ruck.
While he gets chirpy from time to time, Hayton is a vital member of Blackheath’s forward pack and someone who plays well above his weight.
10. Matthew Hundy (Kandos Waratahs)
If New Era cup statistics were documented, Waratahs’ lock Matthew Hundy might lead the league in hit-ups.
There aren’t many forwards in the central west that would consider a 10-run, 30-tackle effort a slow day at the office but for Hundy, that’s exactly what it would be.
The endurance machine is fresh off a 20-run effort against the Orange Barbarians and will almost always take the hit-up no one else wants.
Honourable mentions: Nathan Doggett (Portland Colts), Oscar Thorburn (CSU Mungoes), Jared Donlan (Orange Barbarians), Anthony corocher (Blackheath Blackcats), Glenn Osgood (Kandos Waratahs).