AS the halfway point of the 2019 Group Seven Rugby League season has just passed, I thought there's no better time to highlight which players have been instrumental to their club's success through the first 10 rounds.
Team success obviously weighs highly in this list but it also rewards those 'heartbeat' players at each club, who are prepared to do whatever it takes to get the all important two points.
Without further ado, here are our 20 most influential players thus far this season (from 20-1).
20 Will Homer (Stingrays of Shellharbour)
While the Stingrays are yet to taste victory this year, they have gone close on a number of occasions, largely due to one man.
That man is Will Homer.
The hard-working middle, who regularly plays big minutes, is the leader of this side - on and off the field.
Nothing is too hard for Homer and I don't know where the Rays would be without him in 2019.
19 Josh Sainsbury (Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles)
The heart and soul of the Eagles' engine room.
Whenever the Park need someone to roll their sleeves up and take a hit-up or make that game-changing tackle, Sainsbury is your man.
Despite his relative youth, he's a veteran of this inexperienced Eagles side and the side's forward pack would be completely unrecognisable without their unquestioned leader.
18 Kieran Poole (Kiama Knights)
The inspirational skipper of the Knights is the calm head his young troops need at times.
After moving from the halves to the back row in recent years, his strong play on the right edge, especially on defence, gives his coach Matt Clarke one less headache to thing about.
He is one of the most consistent players in the competition, who very rarely gets beaten by his opposite number and goes about his business with little fuss.
The glue guy every team needs.
17 Jayme McElhone (Shellharbour Sharks)
If we're making bets on who is the fastest guy in Group Seven, I'm putting money on this Sharks winger.
The game-breaker showed how devastating he can be by scoring not one but two length of the field tries against the Gorillas in the wet on Sunday.
His size and speed make him a handful for any opposite number, while making them stay honest on defence.
His carries on kick returns gives the Sharks a leg up to their start of their set of six, while his kick chases give the opposite fullback little room to breathe - therefore seeing them start their own set on the back foot.
It's little aspects of the game which make McElhone crucial to the Sharks' premiership defence in 2019.
16 Josh Coulter (Nowra-Bomaderry Jets)
Coulter has turned a lot of heads, mine included, with the way he is able to direct his troops around from the halves.
Although he's arguably in the mix for the Jets' best player, with the likes of Dylan Farrell, Ryan James, Tyson Simpson and Jake Gould, none of them can be called around to direct a team around the park like Coulter does.
And if they were forced to play without Coulter's strong running game, I believe the Jets would be in a lot of trouble.
He is crucial in their push for a finals berth.
15 Blake Dryden (Berry-Shoalhaven Heads Magpies)
Dryden is the absolute heart and soul of the Magpies club and without him, they probably wouldn't have come close to sniffing victory in 2019.
The lead-by-example hooker always puts his team on the front foot with darting runs from dummy-half, as well as sharp offloads, to put his wide men into space.
He's built on a top five finish in the Michael Cronin Medal voting in 2018 by producing week-in, week-out performances, that his team need to be competitive.
14 Matt Winchester (Gerringong Lions)
Winchester came to Michael Cronin Oval last season with huge expectations and he lived up to the billing as one of the most dangerous backs in the competition.
This season has seen him shift to the centres, with Toby Gumley-Quine moving to the back, but it hasn't changed how important he is to the Lions side.
His calm head, vision in the game and point scoring ability for the Lions side is crucial in making them tick, as he can sometimes create something out of nothing (as shown below against Shellharbour).
In a young Lions outfit, players like him and Joel Roberts keep the Lions focused on Michael Cronin's game plan.
13 Corey Grigg (Jamberoo Superoos)
If you need any convincing to how damaging Corey Grigg is on the footy field, go watch the highlights from the weekend's win against local rivals Kiama.
The left-edge back rower scored a hat-trick in the win, with more than one of those tries coming out of nothing - which personifies his role in the Superoos side.
On a number of occasions, a game will be in the balance but then a moment of brilliance, be it a charge down or a barnstorming run, by Grigg turns the match in the 2017 premiers' favour.
As much depth as Jono Dallas' side has at Kevin Walsh Oval, no one brings to the park what Grigg does.
12 Jake Taylor (Gerringong Lions)
Although he plays with the 13 on his back, I think he's actually played more as a five-eight this season, compared to their actual number six Corey Mulhall.
He is regularly involved in any attacking raid the Lions make, while also being the first to put his hand up if the Lions need someone to make a hit-up or tackle.
Having a playmaking 13 in their side gives the Lions another dimension, one similar to when they had Brad Davidson at lock for back-to-back premierships in 2015/16.
Oh, did I mention, he's one of the competition's top goal kickers too?
11 Aaron Henry (Warilla-Lake South Gorillas)
For as long as I've been covering the competition, Warilla-Lake South go as far as Aaron Henry - end of story.
The halfback trapped in a prop's body is without doubt one of the competition's top players, but his impact on the field for the Gorillas goes without questions.
The way he can turn a game with an offload or a big hit is second to none and with him going back to his best position on the edge, Henry has returned to his devastating best in 2019.
10 Cam Vazzoler (Kiama Knights)
The reigning Cronin Medal winner has taken his game to the next level this season, helping the Knights sit comfortably in the top five.
With a fair bit of change in Matt Clarke's line-up this year, one of the constants has been halfback Vazzoler.
His speed, passing and kicking game make him one of the best halves in the group and he's without a doubt Kiama's x-factor.
He's one player the red and blacks can't afford to lose if they want to end their 34-year premiership drought.
9 Daniel Burke (Warilla-Lake South)
Before the season started, many thought another lock, by the name of Dylan McGregor, would be Warilla-Lake South's best player.
Although he moved from the six to the 13 jersey during the season, Daniel Burke's play has been critical to how far the Gorillas have gone.
His ability to read the play, find a half-gap in a tiring defensive line or get the ball into the right position to benefit his team, cannot be underestimated.
If the Gorillas are to secure a top five spot this year, Burke will 100 per cent have a lot to do with it.
8 Luke Patten (Albion Park-Oak Flats)
Despite not playing since his retirement from the NRL, the "General" hasn't missed a beat in his return to the park this season for Gary Breakspear's Eagles.
The 39-year-old custodian is regularly the main focal point of their attack, while being called on to direct around the troops in the front line of defence.
His play at the nest has been key to keeping the Eagles in the finals mix and I seriously wonder how different their team would look without the 282-game Steelers and Bulldogs veteran.
His leadership and influence on the young Eagles can not be underestimated too.
7 Jack Kavanagh (Shellharbour Sharks)
Kavangah quickly announced himself as one of the most dangerous forwards in the group last season, upon his arrival from Queensland, and has taken his game to the next level in 2019, with coach Abed Atallah shifting him to the lock position.
Although he can be a hot-head at times, which can hurt his side, when he concentrates on making metres and tackling the opposition, there are few better than him on the South Coast.
His ability to play 80 minutes at his size, has made Shellharbour hardly feel the loss of premiership winning forward Harold Snell.
One thing you can count on with Kavanagh is his last hit-up will be as hard as his first - in my eyes, the biggest compliment you can give to a forward.
6 Tom Angel (Kiama Knights)
In his first full season back at the Kiama Showground, the Robertson Spuddies junior is showing why he's been part of the Dragons set-up the past two years.
Angel's foot speed, strength and ability to offload have caused every team's right edge defence problems this season.
His play is one of the major reasons the Knights are still in the mix for a top three spot, despite missing key players Toby Nobes, Luke Chalker, Luke Sutton and Daniel Martin for a large chunk of the season.
His ability to create space on the Knights' left edge lays the platform for the go-forward of Matt Clarke's side, which benefits the Knights' speedsters Matt and Dylan Morris, Jay Delaney and Tom Atkins.
5 Dylan Farrell (Nowra-Bomaderry Jets)
In year two as the Jets' captain/coach, Farrell is starting to regain that x-factor that saw him play 90 NRL games for the Rabbitohs and Dragons.
He, along with Ryan James, are the heartbeat of the Jets side and form arguably the most potent right edge in the competition - that is, when they just play footy.
But if Farrell, who has been sin-binned on three occasions this season, or the Jets let their discipline get the better of them, their hopes of winning nose-dive (as shown against the Lions earlier in the month).
Farrell is doing great things to help the Jets return to the finals but he needs to keep his emotions in check - because once he loses it, the whole team follows suit.
4 Luke Asquith (Jamberoo Superoos)
Asquith's impact on the game was no more evident when he missed out on the Roos' finals series last year with a knee injury.
But now that the workhorse lock is back in the green and red, the Roos are back to their best.
Arguably one of, if not the best, middle in the game today, Asquith gives his all, regardless if it's the first or 80th minute, which is a true mark of a champion.
Will no doubt be in the mix again for the Michael Cronin Medal, especially if the Superoos can lock up top spot.
3 Matt Carroll (Shellharbour Sharks)
Over the past decade, the South Coast has seen fewer halves dominate a game like Sharks skipper Carroll.
From his elite in-game kicking to his general play calling and his dead-eye goal kicking - he's everything you want in a modern day halfback.
And whenever you watch a Sharks game, there's always one voice you can hear barking instructions over the rest - that's his.
His leadership, none more evident during his side's courageous win against Warilla-Lake South on Sunday, cannot be underestimated and if Abed Atallah's troops are to go back-to-back this year, I'm sure Carroll will have plenty to do with it.
2 Nathan Ford (Gerringong Lions)
Respect for Nathan around the group cannot be underestimated, as the multiple time Cronin Medal runner-up is the heartbeat of the Lions outfit.
The way he puts his body on the line, both offensively and defensively is second to none on the South Coast and whenever anyone plays Gerringong, they know they need to slow down Ford - much easier said than done.
Despite many underestimating the young forward pack of Michael Cronin's side this year, Ford, a lead-by-example player, is the main reason the Lions sit in second place after 10 rounds, with an 8-2 record.
If they can hold onto a top-two spot, I feel this is the year Ford finally breaks through for that elusive Cronin Medal.
1 Jono Dallas (Jamberoo Superoos)
After guiding the Roos to their first premiership in 43 years two years ago, captain/coach Dallas has again been pivotal in helping Jamberoo remain undefeated this season.
The seasoned halfback is the Roos general on and off the park and can be counted to motivate the boys, even when their backs are against the wall.
Few in the whole competition read the game better than the 'Mayor of Jamberoo' and he is the key that unlocks everything good from the Kevin Walsh Oval based club and is as close as to irreplaceable as any player in Group Seven.
Note: with the Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs withdrawing from first grade, none of the players from kennel were considered.
Read more Group Seven Rugby League news here:https://www.southcoastregister.com.au/sport/rugby-league/