Pretty small sample size, really, but what fans bothered to respond have spoken. The best player for the Roosters through the first six rounds is a man made famous this year for superb goalkicking, breaking the line at will and creating a euphemism out of the former cooking term “barbecuing”.
James Maloney won in a landslide, dominating the voting for the Roosters’ best player through the opening six rounds over his nearest competitor Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
Both players have shone through the hype around Sonny Bill Williams, and exceeded two of the most spectacular attacking efforts from the second rower (against Parramatta and the Bulldogs) to take a combined 77 per cent of the votes.
But really, it wasn’t even close in the end.
Maloney took 52 per cent of the votes, with JWH taking 25 per cent in what essentially mounted to a three horse race.
Fellow nominees Mitchell Pearce (six per cent) and Michael Jennings — who stood on top of the 26 Rounds Weekly Player rankings after rounds two and three — finished with just six and four per cent of the votes respectively.
Surprisingly, Sonny Bill Williams, who has been absolutely spectacular in the past three rounds, finished third with 14 per cent.
But it’s hard to argue with James Maloney taking out the top spot.
From 26 Rounds alone he’s taken four of the past five Man of the Match awards and placed himself as the front runner for the always-vacant number 6 jersey for NSW.
If you think 26 Rounds has it wrong, well, the fans agree and so do NewsCorp journalists and commentators: he’s second in the Dally M on 10 points, just a point behind Storm halfback Cooper Cronk.
It’s been a remarkable return to form with a new club, having faded late last year due to injuries and the poor form of the Warriors at the back end of the season.
For what it’s worth, many fans found it a hard vote regardless of the lopsided nature of the final result. Real Rooster H said the BBQ was “Just in front of JWH and SBW”, while TBH reckoned it was a “toss up” between the three but that “JWH has been exceptional”. And Sandi chose SBW due to the fact that the star recruit ” has not missed a beat since returning to the NRL”.
BBQ Maloney, 52%
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 25%
Sonny Bill Williams, 13%
Mitchell Pearce, 6%
Michael Jennings 4%