At the mid-point of the season I specified who I thought was worthy of receiving the end of year awards based on the season so far and how I thought the rest of the season would play out. I would like to say I nailed it on the head but unfortunately the NRL is a cruel and unpredictable beast that can turn everything around in a split second. State of Origin concluded and the final 8 began to solidify itself. Crucial injuries and suspensions also played a significant part in the way the regular season concluded. Before jumping on the NRL finals hype train I would like to offer my predictions as to who deserves the end of season awards based on rounds 1 to 26.
Dally M Player of the Year – Johnathan Thurston
When voting went private following round 16 the award was free game however since then the top horses have all dropped off in form apart from one – Thurston. The Cowboys haven’t been quite as impressive as they were earlier in the season however Thurston has put in enough solid performances to lock up his 4th Dally M. Other potential candidates include James Maloney (8 points at Round 16), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (9), Anthony Milford (8), Ben Hunt (10) and Michael Ennis (11). Thurston’s 19 points would have given him too strong a lead. Despite easily having seasons worthy of contending for player of the year, the way the Dally M award is structured makes it more difficult for players with star team mates to win therefore Maloney, RTS, Hunt and Milford will struggle to make up enough ground. Ennis would be the most likely to challenge Thurston however 8 points with 10 rounds remaining is a daunting task.
Rookie of the Year – Kane Elgey
Feel free to crucify me for not choosing Jack Bird; he seems to be the unanimous choice according to every other publication and vote. Kane Elgey has shown immense maturity as a playmaker especially late in the season when Aidan Sezer was injured. He developed from a solid supporting act to a dominant game manager and spark player in a team that was struggling badly. While Jack Bird was imstrumental in Cronulla’s season turn around, he wasn’t as effective late in the season despite the Sharks’ strong form. Solomone Kata was impressive throughout most of the season but showed a bad form slump which coincided with the Warriors downfall. Sio Siau Taukeiaho was very strong throughout the entire season and narrowly missed out. Valentine Holmes was brilliant to watch as a spark player but has a few things to iron out. He is definitely a star of the future.
Coach of the Year – Wayne Bennett
It was difficult for me to choose between Bennett and Robinson but the nail in the coffin was the way Bennett has helped Milford and Hunt become the most potent halves combination in the league. He transformed a team that has been very average the past few years into a devastating machine in a short period of time. Congratulations should go to Robinson for winning 3 minor premierships in a row.
Top Try Scorer – Semi Radradra
The big man was one of the best players throughout the second half of the year and helped turn the Eels into a team that was actually dangerous.
Top Point Scorer – Jarrod Croker
Croker comfortably won this honour and was very deserving after a brilliant season.
Try of the Year – Nathan Friend backflip –
2015 was a year of many incredible tries but this could be one of the most incredible of all time.
Team of the Year
Fullback – Roger Tuivasa Sheck
Winger – Semi Radradra
Centre – Michael Jennings
Five-Eighth – Anthony Milford
Halfback – Johnathan Thurston
Prop – Jesse Bromwich
Second Row- Frank Pritchard
Lock – Corey Parker