With only two rounds remaining thought it would be timely to announce my tips for the upcoming Dally M Awards – including the player, coach, captain and team of the year.
The candidates for player of the year include the current holder Cameron Smith, his likely Test successor Damian Cook, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Kalyn Ponga and Luke Brooks.
It could well be a case of the last man standing with polling in the last two games critical to one of the tightest Dally M medals on record.
Cameron Smith and Kalyn Ponga are both in doubt this week and my thoughts are that Cook and Tuivasa-Sheck could poll enough points to claim the game’s most prestigious award.
And the winner is Damian Cook.
The coaching ranks have copped plenty in the last few weeks but there is a genuine battle going on at the top of the table with three teams in line for the Minor Premiership - as one of the closest battles for this year’s Premiership unfolds.
The candidates are Craig Bellamy who has reinforced his standing as the best (and most consistent) coach in the modern era; along with Trent Robinson (whose team has the best defence) and Anthony Seibold (who has transformed the Rabbitohs’ attack).
The winner is Craig Bellamy.
The captain of the year is normally aligned with the same values and success of their coaches (and teams) – so the nominees for captain of the year are: Cameron Smith, Greg Inglis, Boyd Cordner and Roger Tuivasa-sheck.
All have shown great on field leadership and inspired their teams when it has been needed the most.
The decision by Cameron Smith to stand down from rep footy and concentrate on his immense contribution to the Storm’s hopes of going back to back for the first time in the NRL’s history is impossible to ignore.
The winner is Cameron Smith
Team of the year:
Fullback – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Wing – Blake Ferguson
Centre – Latrell Mitchell
Five-eighth – Cameron Munster
Half-back – Luke Brooks
Lock – Sam Burgess
Back-row – Tyson Frizelle
Hooker – Damian Cook
Front-row – Andrew Fifita
This season has gone quicker than “last week’s wages” and as the finals approach– let’s hope the most criticised part of our game – the officials and bunker do not play a major role in determining the winner of the NRL.
The much-publicised crack-downs and incessant nick picking will hopefully be put on the back burner and we can let the players determine who will be the best team in 2018.
Perhaps the NRL (and its management) should adopt the same plan as Origin and show a bit more tolerance for the tough nature of the game as teams head into the most intense part of the season.
My advice (if I was the coaches’ boss) would be to allow the head referee to control the game and only allow the pocket ref, the video ref or touch judges get involved if there is a blatant breach of the rules – including errors at the play-the-ball, forward passes or professional fouls.
The fans deserve to enjoy the most exciting part of the season and don’t want to see their team’s chances ruined by poor, on field decisions.
This approach would also need some respect and understanding from the players (and their coaches) to play within the rules and not “carry on” post game if some of the marginal areas of the game are not policed as hard.
May the best team win!
Tigers, Warriors, Cowboys, Rabbits, Storm, Roosters, Sharks, Dragons