UPDATED: Top Point Scorer added and ROY updated
Dally M Player of the Year and Halfback of the Year: Cooper Cronk.
Anyone who doubts the Storm have the best spine in the game should just remain quiet. They now have Dally M winners in Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and now Cooper Cronk who have taken home the Dally M Medal throughout their storied careers.
He did have another excellent season and had to deal with two different five-eighths once Gareth Widdop went down with an injury, replaced by Brett Finch. But through it all he led the Storm to third place on the table and the Queenslanders to another series win.
Coach of the year: Trent Robinson.
As good as all the other coaches have been, no-one compares to what Robbo did for the Roosters. An 18-6 record, the minor premiership, integrating four new stars — three at late notice — to start the year.
They have the best attack and the best defence, they’ve won without SBW twice by 40 points, without both their halves once (against a top eight team). He’s the true hero of the Roosters’ resurgence this year, and this award was never truly up for debate.
Second-rower of the year: Boyd Cordner.
What an uspet! The youngster beat out his bigger-name nominee in SBW to take the gong after a year in which he played his first State of Origin and took the game by storm. He scored nine tires in 19 games and the Roosters scored on the play directly after one of his lightning-quick play-the-balls nine times.
He only played 19 games, which made this a massive upset over SBW who dominated the game on many an occasion, scoring eight tries with 54 offloads and a number of Man of the Match awards in two extra games. But Boyd took the gong, starting off what promises to be an award-filled career for the young second-rower. All Roosters fans are so happy for him, I’m sure I can say with no hesitation.
Winger of the year: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
The humble kid was not there to collect the award, but probably because he’s too shy to accept any acclaim. He doesn’t score at the rate of other wingers — just nine tries this season — but he gets involved, breaks the line as well as anyone and in any area on the field — and it’s not even his best spot.
His defence has improved immensely and he is destined for greater things when he is eventually moved full time to the fullback role. He made 3,231 metres this year, the most of any Rooster and more than 600 metres more than the nearest Rooster, Jenko, who has played an extra game.
Oh, and there’s also been this:
NRL Top Point Scorer: James Maloney.
The BBQ turned the Roosters halves into one of the best in the NRL, and couldn’t miss a kick all year (for the most part). He scored 230 points from nine tries and 97 goals, re-establishing himself as one of the best running five-eighths in the competition after a bad end to season 2012 with the Warriors which was marred by a knee injury. He played for his state, and should make the Kangaroos train-on squad for the world cup following the Grand Final, his second in three years.
(And cheers to Kelli Wallace @KKW_01 for reminding me that Jimmy took home a trophy too — mad error on my part!)
Hooker of the Year: Cameron Smith.
It stands to reason that the player many consider the best in the game should be named the best in the position, and Cam Smith is just that, beating out Roosters’ nominee Jake Friend for the award. He captained the Maroons to their eighth straight Origin series and the Storm to a third-placed finish.
It was always going to be an upset for Jakey to take the gong — but the Roosters rake is now considered the next in line for the Queensland job after a career year. He scored seven tries and showed more creativity around the ruck than most thought him capable of, forming a deadly offload-and-collect combo with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves despite playing fewer minutes than last year.
Five eighth of the Year: Tie between Todd Carney and Jonathan Thurston.
Todd Carney didn’t play in the final game of the season, potentially robbing him of his second Dally M medal, while Thurston’s hot form in the Cowboys’ six game winning streak to end the year meant he almnost snatched the top gong. Ultimately, they couldn’t be split and the pair both beat out James Maloney for the five-eighth gong.
Fullback of the Year: Greg Inglis.
His to lose, his season was spectacular, leading the Bunnies to second on the ladder and dominating on occasion. He scored 14 tries in 20 games and was spectacular for the majority of the year. He was injured for a month and the Bunnies lost their way, losing their stranglehold on the minor premiership that the Roosters happily snapped up.
Mini was never really in play here, with Billy Slater, Brett Stewart and Josh Dugan the others nominated — and all were more deserving for different reasons this season.
Centre of the year: Jamie Lyon.
He only must have just beaten a spectacular year from the Roosters’ Michael Jennings, but it’s just deserved. Lyon is a rare talent with a brilliant footy brain, one that kicks goals (albeit at a shitty strike rate) and leads the game’s most lethal right-side attack.
Jennings has scored 19 tries in 25 club matches this year for the Roosters, but Jamie Lyon has held that Manly squad together through a raft of injuries throughout the year.
Rookie of the Year: George Burgess.
No Roosters were nominated for the award, as RTS was ineligible while Dylan Napa and Isaac Liu didn’t get as much burn as those nominated. Why Daniel Tupou didn’t get nominated was puzzling, as Daniel Meredith pointed out on Twitter he was certainly eligible to:
But there was no way George Burgess wasn’t winning this award after scoring seven tries from the front row and taking the game by storm — breaking tackles at will and having his team score off the next set following his play the ball an NRL-high 18 times this season.
Prop of the year: Andrew Fifita.
This was between him and JWH in this writer’s eyes, but it was really Fifita’s award to lose after a breakout season. Why the Tigers let this guy go is beyond EVERYONE who watches rugby league. He’s an 80 minute prop who can score through barge-overs and line breaks, scoring nine tries with 91 tackle busts in 25 games. He’s a freakish talent who climbed all the way to State of Origin, with an Aussie Jersey beckoning.
But JWH surely was not far behind after becoming the defensive leader of the best defensive squad in the competition.
Lock of the year: Corey Parker.
No Roosters were nominated, but Parker was always considered the favourite for this award.
He’s an 80-minute player that doubles as a guaranteed captain in most fantasy leagues. He’ll regularly get through 20 hitups and 40 tackles in a given game, and while it was expected he’d drop off a little bit this year, he just got better with age.
He really stood up during Origin and is a class act, despite resembling Andrew Gaze with that salty hairdo.
Captain of the year: Cameron Smith.
Anthony Minichiello was nominated for the award but Cam Smith takes the gong — and to be honest, this was a no-brainer. Cam Smith works the referees better than anyone in the game, as everyone saw in State of Origin III when he recited the rule book to the referees after that fuckwit streaker ruined everything.
Cam Smith said he was “surprised” that Mini didn’t get the award after leading the Roosters to the minor premiership, but perhaps also leading the most penalised team since 1994 didn’t help either.
Representative player of the year: Cameron Smith.
He’s cleaned up tonight and may have to pay for extra baggage on the way back to Melbourne. Again, led his team to its eighth straight Origin series and will lead Australia at the world cup to top the season off. Will be the game’s next immortal — unless the selection committee wake up to itself and promote Brad Fittler to the ranks of the Gods where he belongs.
For the record, not a single NSW player was nominated.
Provan-Summons Medal: Greg Inglis.
Voted on by the fans as the most popular player in the game, GI beat out Sonny Bill and the BBQ for the award. Souths hatred aside, I love GI as well. He was always destined to be a fullback, and a dominant one, but has spent the majority of his career wasting away in the centres.
He was quiet against Manly and that’s a big reason the Bunnies lost in the Grand Final qualifier — no team depends on a dominant performance from a superstar more than Souths.