NYC PLAYER OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS
2014 Cowboys Presentation Ball, Friday 10 October, Jupiters Townsville
2013 winner: Jayden Hodges
An off-season signing from the Canberra competition on a one-year contract, Chudleigh sealed his place as the starting hooker in the Cowboys’ under-20s round one squad during the pre-season trials and played almost every game in the No.9 jersey – only missing two due to a dangerous tackle suspension from a clash with the Raiders in round 11.
Chudleigh topped the tackle count for NQ almost every week – a season high of 60 coming against South Sydney in round 24 – and was a definite threat out of dummy-half, especially close to the try line.
His outstanding play earned him an NRL contract for 2015 as well as selection in the Junior Kangaroos’ train-on squad.
Only 17 when he began his first year with the Cowboys NYC program, Hess impressed everyone with his work ethic during pre-season and his form with the Mal Meninga Cup and national title-winning Townsville Stingers under-18 squad.
He scored two tries in the national final against Newcastle and won selection in the Queensland under-18s squad.
Once his Stingers commitments ended, the Mt Isa product, who made his Cowboys debut in round five against Newcastle, was almost an ever-present in North Queensland’s starting 17 in the under-20s competition.
He ended up claiming a starting berth later in the year and tallied 16 matches, predominantly as a back-rower on the Cowboys’ left edge.
After arriving at Cowboys HQ with plenty of untapped talent as a rugby union centre, the Fijian had to quickly adapt to a new code and that’s exactly what he did, becoming one of North Queensland’s chief attacking threats.
Opposition sides were soon aware that the Cowboys possessed a front-rower who could seemingly bust the defensive line with ease and could offload in the tackle if his charge forward was stopped.
With Patrick Kaufusi sidelined for most of the year with a pectoral tear, Kikau stepped up to be a forwards leader with NQ in his rookie year, appearing in 21 of his team’s 24 games.
A couple of suspensions due to dangerous tackles were the only blot on his record.