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Catchpole contenders: Pirate trio polling well in 2022

Mon, 18/07/2022, 12:20 pm
Declan Armstrong
by Declan Armstrong
Kodie Drury-Hawkins is one of three Pirates expected to poll well in the Catchpole Medal. Photo: David Maclean
Kodie Drury-Hawkins is one of three Pirates expected to poll well in the Catchpole Medal. Photo: David Maclean

With last year’s Ken Catchpole Medal falling foul to a season ended by COVID-19, the historic award returns in 2022 with a flurry of emerging and seasoned Shute Shield names polling strongly throughout the regular season.

The prestigious medal is awarded to the Charter Hall Shute Shield Player of the Year, as voted on a 3-2-1 basis over the course of the season.

Named in honour of Ken Catchpole, Randwick Rugby Club and Wallabies legend, the medal is set to be announced on 10 August at the Catchpole Medal Dinner.

In the lead-up, Catchpole Contenders will be previewing the players likely to contend for the Medal in 2022.

With the likes of Scott Fardy, Phil Kearns and Simon Poidevin all previous winners of the Catchpole Medal, the 2022 recipient will join an illustrious list of NSW Rugby talent and become part of Shute Shield history.

Kodie Drury-Hawkins – West Harbour

West Harbour’s ‘Mr Reliable’, Drury-Hawkins has composed yet another strong season as a utility in the Pirate backline, featuring first at flyhalf and then at fullback after the return of Jack Debreczeni.

Missing the Pirates Round Fifteen victory over Randwick due to a concussion suffered the previous week, Drury-Hawkins year to date has seen him further cement himself as one of the most important cogs in the West Harbour machine.

With 71-points through fourteen appearances in 2022, Drury-Hawkins’ right boot has operated at 75.8% in front of goal and proved pivotal in his team's 1-point victory over the Two Blues in Round One.

Utilised heavily in both attacking phase play and goal line defence, the playmaker's reliable kicking game saw him amass 2,940 kick metres over fourteen fixtures, ranking him fourth in the Shute Shield for total kick metres gained.

Drury-Hawkins would become the second Pirate playmaker in recent years to take home the Ken Catchpole Medal, with Taylor Adams taking home the honour in 2017 following a stellar year in the flyhalf jersey.

Prez Tufuga – West Harbour

Featuring across both lock and back row positions in 2022, West Harbour enforcer Prez Tufuga has enjoyed a breakout year for the Pirates this season.

Tufuga has regularly been the stimulus for West Harbour’s forward momentum, with 138 carries and 728 carry metres making the utility forward one of the most damaging ball runners in the Shute Shield.

As well as this, Tufuga’s ability to capitalise on insufficient opposition defence sees him lead the Shute Shield in offloads with 18.

An equally skilful and damaging utility forward, Tufuga’s strength across multiple positions will see the Pirate poll strongly in this season's Catchpole Medal count.

Damien Fleming – West Harbour

The Pirate breakaway, who notched up his 50th First Grade game in the Round Fourteen victory over Manly, has been a model of consistency and toughness in the West Harbour jersey this season.

A leader through action in the West Harbour outfit, Fleming’s work rate in defence has seen him complete 117 tackles at a success rate of 85.8% so far in 2022.

Damien Fleming makes a break against Gordon. Photo: J.B Photography

Fleming’s importance in the Pirates set piece structure sees him jump in both attacking and defensive lineouts, while the breakaways agility sees him regularly challenge the opposition forwards.

In a year of sporadic First Grade success, Fleming has not missed a single minute of all fifteen fixtures, highlighting not only his incredible fitness but his greater importance to the West Harbour outfit.

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