Months after being named Group Nine’s best player in reserve grade, Hayden Diggins is leading the Weissel Medal count after the first half of the season.
The Junee hooker and Tumut enforcer Zac Masters are locked on 14 votes after the first eight rounds of the competition.
Diggins was surprised to be figuring so high.
“It’s very, very unexpected,” Diggins said.
After changing jobs, the 24-year-old credits a more normal lifestyle for his better form after just “mucking around” in reserve grade last season.
“I’m not on shift work anymore and gone back to regular living,” he said.
“It’s been really good to be back playing regular first grade for Junee, where I belong I think.
“It is good to be training two nights a week and playing again.”
The pair are four clear of the chasing pack led by Kangaroos fullback Tristan Dickson, with his coach Ben Jeffery in fourth on eight votes.
Coming back into his more familiar role at hooker, Diggins has really been enjoying his football.
“It is definitely my preferred position and I just feel a lot more comfortable there,” he said.
“I’m just playing where I am told.”
Diggins plays an important part of the Diesels spine with Trent Schubach now into halfback, Matt Hands the first choice five-eighth and Daniel Foley at fullback.
Coming off the general bye, Diggins is looking to continue his good home when the Diesels host Kangaroos at Laurie Daley Oval.
With the Wagga club now a win behind, it shapes as another big game for their finals hopes.
“Roos is a must win or we risk slipping out of the four,” Diggins said.
“Particularly coming off two losses as well.
“Both games we shouldn’t have lost.”
Junee have let handy leads slip against Cootamundra and Southcity in their last two games.
It is something Diggins wants to help address.
“We had Southcity beaten on the weekend and a few decisions went against us in the last 10 minutes, but we still led by eight points with 10 to go so it is pretty inexcusable really,” he said.
He believes the team’s lapses have cost them.
“We are just switching off for periods and not playing the full 80 out,” Diggins said.
“I think once we start playing the full 80 out we will be very hard to beat.”