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Catchpole Contenders: Skipper Short determined despite competition uncertainty

Thu, 05/08/2021, 04:00 am
Declan Armstrong
by Declan Armstrong
Short makes a break against West Harbour in Round One. Photo: RicMac
Short makes a break against West Harbour in Round One. Photo: RicMac

Randwick scrumhalf, Mitch Short, says he is continuing to develop in his role as captain and is determined to lead his team into a Finals position should the Charter Hall Shute Shield return.

The 26-year-old admits he is a far superior player to the one that made his First Grade debut in 2015, relishing the responsibilities absorbed through leadership. 

“I’m really happy where my game is at,” he said. 

“Compared to when I first started, I’d like to think I’m a far more complete athlete. 

“I’m really loving being the captain and having the duties of leadership on my shoulders. 

“I’m certainly still adjusting and learning my style of leadership. I need to ensure I can manage each game and communicate efficiently through our whole squad.” 

While Randwick’s form was inconsistent in 2021, Short’s performances at scrumhalf were anything but. 

The Scots College graduate was damaging on the attacking end, keeping nearby ruck defence guessing and delivering silky service to his outside backs. 

But Short concedes polling well in an individual accolade is a secondary focus. 

“Personal achievements are always nice, but I’d happily trade some of my Catchpole votes for a few wins,” he said. 

“I’m still working as hard as ever on my game to ensure I can be the best for this team. 

“It’s just such a shame COVID has brought a halt to this season. I know the whole squad was super determined to make a run at this Finals series.” 

If the Shute Shield is to return and Randwick are to make a run towards Finals, they currently sit only one win behind Eastwood, Warringah and Gordon in the top six. 

Should Rounds 11-13 be played out, ensuring every Shute Shield Club has played each other, Randwick would have the arduous task of playing Norths, Eastwood and Manly over their closing three rounds. 

Despite the odds stacked against them, Short says the squads motivation will carry them a long way. 

“The competition changes so much in the back end of the season,” he said. 

“Representative players return to their respective Clubs and we were really confidence our side was in shape to make a genuine run towards Finals. 

“Our last match against the Two Blues showed how good we could be when we played with some belief. 

“It’s just disappointing we’ve been paused in these circumstances because we really thought we could get there [top six].” 

Another Wick having no problem with form in 2021 is young flanker, Ben Houston. 

21-year-old Houston has made a considerable impact in only his first full season of Shute Shield rugby, displaying agility and strength in the crucial breakaway position. 

Short believes Houston is a fantastic mix of natural rugby talent and resolute work ethic. 

“Coming into this season that backrow spot was up for grabs,” he said. 

“Ben has come in and really snatched up that opportunity, responsible now for much of our set piece and showing some fantastic leadership in our forward pack. 

“He’s really stepped up despite being reasonably inexperienced and beginning to form into a consistent First Grade athlete. 

“Ben’s definitely one to watch and there’s no limit on his potential.” 

Catchpole Contenders: 

BJ Hartmann – Manly 

Hunter Ward – Manly 

Kaliova Nacina – West Harbour

Otto-Louis Wendt – West Harbour

Sam Babb – Two Blues

Tevita Vea – Two Blues

Tim Clements – Sydney University

Henry Robertson – Sydney University

Mitch Short – Randwick 

Ben Houston – Randwick