THE word “utility” is quite often a tag footballers like to avoid. But Sunshine Coast Sea Eagle Ben Whiddon has credited his new role at dummy half as a major reason he feels he now belongs at Queensland Cup level.
Back in March: Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles Ben Whiddon eludes Central Comets defenders.
After beginning the year partnering Manly contracted playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves, Whiddon, traditionally a five-eighth, is filling a role at hooker, coming off the bench.
The 23-year-old played the entire second half at dummy half in the Sea Eagles’ 34-16 victory over Redcliffe, after replacing starting hooker Cameron Joyce.
Before the Dolphins match, with Cherry-Evans absent due to injury or rep duties, Whiddon filled in admirably in the halves, helping guide his side to crucial victories over Easts and Souths Logan.
“I probably didn’t feel as comfortable (in Queensland Cup) as I did now,” Whiddon admitted yesterday.
“Going back into the halves when ‘Chez’ (Cherry-Evans) was away and coming in at hooker last week, when I had a ball, I feel like I belong now.
“I feel like I belong playing against the best teams and can compete against the best players.”
After spending about a month in the FOGS Cup midway through the season, Whiddon believes he has come back into the Queensland Cup fold better for the experience.
“I just had to go back there and work on a few things,” he said.
“I was feeling a little bit drained personally and it was affecting my football. It refreshed me a bit playing FOGS and it made me realise how much I missed playing Cup and when I got my opportunity I wanted to take it.”
The Sea Eagles, who are in the top six only on percentage, face a crucial clash against a resurgent Tweed Heads on the Gold Coast tomorrow.
The Seagulls had to wait until round seven before registering their first win of the season, a 32-20 win over the Sea Eagles at Stockland Park.
Since then their form has been tremendous and they remain an outside chance of making the semis after their crushing victories in the past fortnight over third-placed Wynnum-Manly (42-16) and second-placed Souths Logan (32-6).
“We need to keep winning and we’re under no illusions that every single game in this competition is this competition is tough,” Whiddon said.
“Tweed showed us in their first win of the year against us that they’re no easy beats, and they have to win this game to stay in the finals race.”