North Queensland Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston has won the 2015 Dally M medal, beating the field by a record-breaking margin to claim an unprecedented fourth Dally M medal.
After winning previously in 2005, 2007 and sharing the award last year with Jarryd Hayne, Thurston is the first player to clinch the prestigious award for player of the season four times, going one better than former Knights halfback and rugby league’s eighth Immortal Andrew Johns.
Thurston finished the season with a huge 32 Dally M points, a whole 11 points ahead of the trio who finished second – Dally M Hooker of the Year Michael Ennis, Dally M Prop of the Year Aaron Woods and Broncos halfback Ben Hunt.
A humble and emotional Thurston spoke of what his fourth Dally M Medal meant to him in a live cross from Townsville – after earlier winning Dally M Halfback and Captain of the Year (alongside co-captain Matt Scott) as well as the Provan Summons Medal for the second consecutive season.
“I’m a little bit nervous here. I can’t explain what it means to be standing here in front of family, friends and teammates especially. But the first people I’d like to thank are the teammates I train with every day and spend most of my time with,” Thurston said.
“This award is much theirs as it is mine so special thanks to those boys. The coaching staff that has put the structures in place for us to execute, our medical staff, our fans who travel to watch us play.
“[Wife] Samantha, thank you very much for everything you do for me, I can’t thank you enough – you’re my rock”
Thurston went on again to highlight the job his teammates have done in providing him the platform to deliver what he has in 2015.
“We play the game for friendships; I get to run around with my best mates week in and week out, when you’re playing at Origin level and for your country as well. It’s about having fun out there, it’s a team game,” he said.
“The boys I have around me, they do all the hard work for me, I put the cream on top. It’s been a heck of a year, I couldn’t be more proud standing up here with my fourth Dally M award.”
The season isn’t over for Thurston yet though either as he prepares for his third NRL grand final on Sunday at ANZ Stadium against Queensland rivals the Brisbane Broncos.
“It’s going to be an enjoyable week, it’s why you play football for to be in the big dance and we’ve given ourselves the opportunity to come up against the form team of the year in the Broncos,” Thurston said.
“It’s going to be a cracker of a night and we’re all looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun.”
2015 Dally M Award winners
Dally M Player of the Year: Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys)
Lock of the Year: Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys)
Second-rower of the Year: Josh Jackson (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Hooker of the Year: Michael Ennis (Cronulla Sharks)
Prop of the Year: Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers)
Halfback of the Year: Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys)
Five-eighth of the Year: Blake Austin (Canberra Raiders)
Centre of the Year: James Roberts (Gold Coast Titans)
Winger of the Year: Semi Radradra (Parramatta Eels)
Fullback of the Year: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters)
Female Player of the Year: Jenni-Sue Hoepper (Queensland/Australia)
Holden Cup Player of the Year: Ashley Taylor (Brisbane Broncos)
Representative Player of the Year: Corey Parker (Queensland/Australia)
The Broncos workhorse and NRL Fantasy legend continues to get better with age, taking out the award for the best player in the representative arena.
“I think it’s important you have a good mix [of youth and experience], in today’s game the young guys let you know if you’re getting on, and it gives you that drive,” Parker said.
Last appearing in a grand final in 2006, Parker is fully focussed on making the most of the opportunity this season.
“I do have great memories [of 2006]. It’s a very special week, only a few get to do it. From my point of view, I want to help our guys – our young players in particular – enjoy the week because it is something very special.”
Provan Summons People’s Choice Medal: Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys)
Thurston collected the Provan Summons Medal for the second consecutive year, and thanked all those rugby league fans who voted him as their favourite player for another season.
“It’s an extremely proud moment to receive this award for a second year. This is what we play the game for, the fans.”
Ken Stephen Medal: Luke Douglas (Gold Coast Titans)
Titans forward Luke Douglas was recognised for his work in the community with the Ken Stephen Medal, revealing the driving force behind his work off the field.
“I’m passionate about charity work,” Douglas said. “My mum was a teacher’s aide. She worked with children with disabilities; I suppose it’s rubbed off on me. She passed away a few years ago, and I’m trying to continue on her legacy.”
Coach of the Year: Wayne Bennett (Brisbane Broncos)
In his first year back at the helm of the club he enjoyed so much success at, Bennett guided the Broncos to another grand final, and the master coach said he could sense something positive was building midway through the season.
“As things unfolded, we got halfway through the season I thought we were a chance of doing something pretty special, and that’s the way it’s unfolded for us,” Bennett said. “The things that won 28 years ago still work today.”
Peter Moore Award for Rookie of the Year: Jack Bird (Cronulla Sharks)
The Sharks rookie enjoyed a stellar first season, making his first grade debut from the bench in Round 4 before starting at five-eighth for the remainder of the year.
“It was a good season from the boys, especially from where they came last year,” Bird, who moved from the Dragons in the off-season, said. “To finish in the top eight was a remarkable year from us. Paul Gallen and Mick Ennis, they’re both good blokes, they try and bash me around at training, but it doesn’t really work.”
Captain of the Year: Johnathan Thurston/Matt Scott (North Queensland Cowboys)
Top Points-Scorer: Jarrod Croker (Canberra Raiders)
Top Try-Scorer: Semi Radradra (Parramatta Eels)