The Dally M awards are only a week away and for once Thurston probably won’t win. The result has been decided, but will remain behind closed doors. The voting became private after round 16 at which point four players; Cronk, Smith, James, and Taumalolo; were tied on 16 points. The competition is unlikely to have become less close since then with all the above players remaining dominant for the rest of the season. Corey Norman is the only real contender who has fallen out of the race due to suspension. Hodgson, Fifita, and Thurston were all close to the top as well.
The top ten will likely be filled with Cronk, Smith, James, Taumalolo, Hodgson, Fifita, Thurston, Barba, Moses, and Leilua. This could be the closest race in recent history.
10. Leilua is unlikely to win despite red-hot form because there are too many great players on the Raiders’ team that would take points each week.
9. Fifita’s hopes will be spoilt for the same reason as Barba.
8. Barba would have been on track to take the lead with his ridiculous form through the middle of the season, but will slow down towards the end of the season due to the Shark’s losing streak.
7. Thurston has been playing well but had a few slow weeks following Origin and was too far behind to catch up. He also has to contend with too many dominant players from the cowboys including Taumalolo.
6. Moses, despite being on just 9 points, should come close because of his dominant end of the season which included several man of the match performances, but the Tigers’ patchy form will ruin his hopes of winning the award this year.
The top five is much more discern a winner from. All five players have been impressive on teams that won a lot of games in the back end of the year.
5. Ryan James broke the try scoring record for a prop but the emergence of Hayne and Ash Taylor, along will a number of lost games will drop his stocks for the award. He should come very close to winning though.
4. Hodgson has been brilliant but will suffer for the same reason as Leilua. The Raiders just have too many players who have been in great form.
3. Cameron Smith was started to get questioned about some slightly sloppy play at the start of the season, but he obviously turned it around very well and has been in classic Cam form. The only reason he won’t win the award because he’s had to share points with his partner Cooper all year.
2. Cooper Cronk has easily been the in-form halfback this year and has lead the Storm to another Minor Premiership which hopefully won’t get stripped. He would definitely be deserving if he was to win the award but there is one player who has been consistently dominant all year.
Winner- Jason Taumalolo – He already won the RLPA player of the year which should be a fair indication, but this man has been playing like a possessed beast. You only had to watch him at the end of the Broncos game last week to sum up his season. He has become the best forward in the competition and arguably the best player in the game. Almost every game that the Cowboys have won he would have won at least 2 points despite being surrounded by so many strong players.
Other Notable Awards
Rookie of the Year – Ashley Taylor
Coach of the Year – Brad Arthur