By Les Muir

YOUNG captain-coach James Woolford knows there is a perfect reason for Cherrypickers halfback Ray Talimalie’s impact on the Weissel Medal count.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game against Junee at Laurie Daley Oval, Woolford described Talimalie as one of the players largely responsible for Young’s success this season.

“Ray’s going really well,” Woolford said.

“He’s settled in well and he’s playing some good footy for us.

“And the blokes are feeding off the back of it.”

Woolford’s endorsement is mirrored by Talimalie’s performance in the Weissel Medal in his debut season in Group Nine.

As Young rides high in third spot on the ladder, Talimalie is setting a cracking pace on the Weissel Medal leaderboard.

After 12 rounds, the dynamic halfback is clearly on top with 17 votes, while Gundagai team-mates James Smart and Luke Berkrey are next on 14 votes.

Four weeks ago, Talimalie led the count after eight rounds with 11 votes, one vote ahead of Kangaroos speedster Tristan Dickson (10).

Talimalie has since gained six votes in four games, but Dickson has failed to poll at all.

Likewise, Smart and Berkrey have picked up six votes in the same period to stay right in contention.

With Talimalie bidding to become the first player from Young to eclipse the medal since Ben McAlpine in 2012, he will face a fresh challenge on Sunday.

After missing Junee’s surprise loss to Cootamundra last weekend, Diesels halfback Cameron Hands will line up against Talimalie on Sunday.

Junee, however, will still be without skipper Matt Hands, leaving Simon Wilson to remain at five-eighth.

 Group Nine operations manager Peter Ryan said the Weissel Medal votes remain secret for the remainder of the season, with the result to be revealed at a luncheon at the MTC on October 21.

Weissel Medal leaderboard – after round 12

Ray Talimalie (Young)                     17

James Smart (Gundagai)               14

Luke Berkrey (Gundagai)              14

Hayden Philp (Temora)                 13

Robbie Byatt (Tumbarumba)      11


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