Manly maestro Tom Trbojevic capped a scintillating 2021 run successful taking retired his maiden Dally M Medal, beating Penrith's Nathan Cleary and South Sydney's Cody Walker for the game's highest idiosyncratic honour.
By Zachary Gates|8:02pm Sep 27, 2021
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Terrific Tommy hits the reddish carpet
Manly superstar Tom Trbojevic arrived astatine Brisbane's Howard Smith Wharves with his partner, Kristi Wilkinson, arsenic the red-hot favourite for the Dally M Medal. While the weapon fullback was apt inactive gutted astir Manly's 36-16 preliminary last nonaccomplishment to South Sydney conscionable 3 days earlier, the Dally M awards ceremonial loomed arsenic 1 of the astir peculiar nights of his life. The information helium had lone played 15 games formed a question people implicit whether he'd canvass capable votes to triumph the game's apical idiosyncratic honour, but the overriding feeling was his sheer dominance successful the games helium did play would transportation him to victory. Debate astir Trbojevic's million-dollar-a-year declaration had re-emerged arsenic a hamstring wounded constricted him to the sideline implicit the archetypal 5 rounds of the play but, conscionable implicit 5 months down the track, helium would beryllium suiting up for the Dally M awards arsenic the blistery extremity for the night. The NSW State of Origin limb had mounted a phenomenal turnaround.
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Cleary arrives arsenic fierce Dally M Medal contender
Penrith weapon Nathan Cleary arrived astatine the Dally M awards arsenic 1 of Tom Trbojevic's main rivals. One week earlier, Trbojevic, Cleary, Rabbitohs ace Cody Walker, Roosters superstar James Tedesco and Sea Eagles maestro Daly Cherry-Evans had been revealed arsenic those successful contention for the prized award. As was the lawsuit with Trbojevic, it remained to beryllium seen however important an interaction Cleary's reduced fig of games would person connected his votes tally, fixed his State of Origin enactment and busted shoulder. Trbojevic had played 15 regular-season games and Cleary conscionable 1 more. But a antheral who had registered 219 points and 19 effort assists during the home-and-away season, arsenic good arsenic a league-high 520.93 footwear metres per match, could not beryllium written off. It indispensable besides beryllium remembered that the Panthers had reached the Origin play undefeated, having won their archetypal 12 games of the season. Penrith were white-hot and Cleary was spearheading the juggernaut.
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Walker suits up connected the backmost of stellar season
Rabbitohs ace Cody Walker, pictured with spouse Nellie Bell, arrived astatine Brisbane's Howard Smith Wharves arsenic a smoky for the Dally M Medal. While Tom Trbojevic and Nathan Cleary had been considered the front-rowers for the apical honour, Walker's play successful reddish and greenish could not beryllium underestimated. The Indigenous Australian superstar had tallied a competition-high 33 effort assists during the regular play and bagged plentifulness of four-pointers himself, crossing 11 times. The operation helium had formed with Dane Gagai, Latrell Mitchell and Alex Johnston connected South Sydney's near borderline was electric. But Walker had nary hesitation successful giving his extremity for the Dally M Medal erstwhile asked for his prediction connected Fox League. "I deliberation the lad we played connected the play has it successful the bag," Walker said, alluding to Trbojevic.
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Roosters whiz-kid bags prestigious prize
While the pinnacle grant of the league's nighttime of nights is the Dally M Medal, a big of different honours are presented passim the peculiar evening. One of those is Rookie of the Year, won successful 2021 by Roosters whiz-kid Sam Walker. While Warriors prodigy Reece Walsh had taken retired the Rugby League Players' Association Rookie of the Year grant astir a week earlier, the teen had been ruled ineligible for the Dally M equivalent owed to on-field suspensions. It had constricted Walker's threats to Wests Tigers speedster Daine Laurie, Sea Eagles playmaker Josh Schuster and Titans lad of a weapon Jayden Campbell, the lad of 2001 Dally M Medal victor Preston. But successful testament to his sparkling play with the Tricolours, Walker won the trophy, joining Braith Anasta, Daly Cherry-Evans, Adam Reynolds and a raft of different top-class players connected the award's honour roll. Walker's shining play was punctuated with standout moments, with the Queenslander slotting 3 match-winning tract goals and mounting up respective tries with exceptional cut-out balls. Walker's breakout crippled demanded the rugby league satellite stopped to instrumentality notice, with the young weapon spearheading the Roosters to an epic comeback triumph implicit the Sharks astatine the SCG successful Round Five, successful conscionable his 2nd NRL appearance. The Roosters trailed the Sharks 18-4 with 18 minutes near connected the clock, but they would complaint location to triumph 26-18. Walker was cardinal to the surge, scoring a effort disconnected a solo tally and mounting up 2 others with superb cut-out balls. Whether helium pulled connected the Tricolours' No.7 jumper oregon was injected into the enactment disconnected the bench, Walker continued to nutrient game-changing moments passim the remainder of the season.
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Tedesco recognised for colossal archetypal play arsenic skipper
James Tedesco, pictured with this year's Dally M Captain of the Year trophy, had headed into the play having already won a Dally M Medal, a Rugby League Players Association Players' Champion award, 2 NRL premierships, 2 State of Origin shields and 4 Test matches for Australia and Italy. But the ngo awaiting him would contiguous perchance the top situation of his career. The concussion-forced, mid-season retirements of co-captains Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend near the Roosters' captaincy reins with Tedesco. And not lone was the champion fullback blooded arsenic the glamour club's skipper during a play spent distant from home, successful a Queensland hub, helium was forced to pb a squad ravaged by wounded and retirement. Cordner, Friend, Brett Morris, Luke Keary, Lindsay Collins, Joseph Manu, Drew Hutchison and Joseph Suaalii were among the glut of Roosters wiped retired for either immoderate oregon each of the play for assorted reasons. Coach Trent Robinson wasn't adjacent capable to sanction a squad of 21 for the Roosters' clash with arch-rivals the Rabbitohs successful Round 24. Ben Marschke, Brad Abbey and Freddy Lussick were among the members of the extended Roosters squad hauled successful from the wilderness to marque up the numbers passim the season. But Tedesco's idiosyncratic show and new-found enactment qualities drove the Roosters arsenic they defied the odds, leaving the rugby league satellite successful admiration of their 'next antheral up' mentality. The Roosters finished 5th and pipped the Titans successful their elimination last clash, earlier bowing retired successful a semi-final lucifer against the Sea Eagles. The full-time siren successful that nonaccomplishment to Manly brought a thoroughly deserved interruption Tedesco's way.
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Bellamy's record-matching feat honoured
Possibly the astir hotly contended grant of the night, the Dally M Coach of the Year trophy, was taken retired by Melbourne mentor Craig Bellamy. Trent Robinson had performed a singular occupation successful starring a Roosters squad decimated by status and injury, but Bellamy's record-matching play could not beryllium overlooked. The three-time premiership manager had led Melbourne to 19 wins successful a row, a streak which equalled the people acceptable by the Eastern Suburbs broadside of 1975. Bellamy's charges besides clinched the JJ Giltinan Shield, the grant for the insignificant premiers. Making Bellamy's feats peculiarly awesome is the information the nine was without skipper and weapon hooker Cameron Smith for the archetypal clip since 2001, aft helium called clip connected his legendary 430-game NRL vocation connected the eve of the season. Bellamy and his troops had besides been faced with a 2nd play successful succession spent successful a Queensland hub, which constricted the Storm to conscionable 5 games successful Melbourne this year. Bellamy has present won the Dally M Coach of the Year trophy treble the fig of times of his closest rivals. Bellamy has taken retired the honour connected six occasions (2006, 2007, 2011, 2017, 2019, 2021), portion Wayne Bennett and Tim Sheens person won it 3 times each.
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Brother's nervy interrogation arsenic Turbo zeros successful connected gong
Among those sitting astatine the aforesaid array arsenic eventual Dally M Medal victor Tom Trbojevic was older member Jake, pictured successful the centre. As Jake was interviewed by Broncos large Corey Parker connected Fox League's sum aft the Round 22 reveal, helium chopped an highly tense figure. Tom led the tract with 29 votes astatine that stage, with South Sydney weapon Cody Walker and Penrith magician Nathan Cleary trailing connected 24 each. Fighting nerves arsenic the Dally M Medal number neared the pointy end, Jake could not enactment inactive successful his interrogation with Parker. "Well hopefully Tommy's not arsenic tense arsenic you are," Parker said to Jake, sparking a tube of laughs passim the room. "Good luck, large fella."
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Hasler's heartwarming tribute to superstar
Manly manager Des Hasler delivered Tom Trbojevic a beauteous tribute arsenic the megastar fullback closed successful connected his Dally M Medal victory. In an interrogation with Fox League pursuing the Round 23 reveal, Hasler took a infinitesimal to praise not lone Trbojevic the footballer, but Trbojevic the man. "Considering he's doing it connected the backmost of 15 games, it's rather an astonishing effort," Hasler said. "I conscionable deliberation the mode helium approaches (the crippled is what makes him truthful great). A batch of radical present and a batch of the players that person played (with him) and watched him play ... and played (with him) successful rep sides conscionable cognize however helium handles himself. But it's besides conscionable his nature. He's a fantastic quality being and the mode helium carries himself with favoritism and large humility ... I cognize determination are different features that spell into making him the subordinate helium is and the crushed we watch." Hasler has had the privilege of coaching Trbojevic implicit the past 3 seasons, aft helium returned from a twelvemonth disconnected pursuing a messy departure from the Bulldogs.
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Turbo joins revered Manly company
Sea Eagles limb Tom Trbojevic became conscionable the 3rd Manly subordinate successful past to triumph a Dally M Medal, joining Cliff Lyons (1990, 1994) and Matt Orford (2008). Lyons was a five-eighth of bonzer accomplishment and instinct, who played 334 first-grade games with Manly and North Sydney betwixt 1985 and 1999. Orford, who played 235 first-grade games with the Northern Eagles, Melbourne, Manly and Canberra betwixt 2000 and 2011, was a abbreviated but nuggety halfback whose playmaking trade was elite. Orford's Dally M Medal triumph came successful the aforesaid twelvemonth successful which the Sea Eagles thrashed the Storm 40-0 to triumph the 2008 expansive final. "I was conscionable speechmaking done the past winners conscionable past and to beryllium recognised amongst that database is beauteous special," Trbojevic said moments aft winning the Dally M Medal. "I don't deliberation it volition ever descend in."
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Turbo stat attack
The statistic down Tom Trbojevic's 2021 regular play are staggering. The NSW Blues ace finished with 25 tries and 27 effort assists from conscionable 15 games, arsenic good arsenic 221.6 tally metres per match. Included successful his glut of tries were 5 hat-tricks. In an denotation of conscionable however overmuch brilliance Trbojevic packed into his 15 games this season, lone 1 different subordinate successful the NRL era, which began successful 1998, has won a Dally M Medal aft playing little than 20 regular-season matches. Canberra weapon Jack Wighton took retired the 2020 gong aft playing 19 regular-season games successful a COVID-shortened competition. Trbojevic's numbers continued to stun during this year's finals series, with the superb No.1 scoring his 28th effort to surpass the nine grounds for astir tries successful a season, acceptable by Phil Blake during the 1983 NSWRL competition.
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The 2 Turbo games that operation supra the rest
When Tom Trbojevic's regular play is analysed successful hunt of his astir ascendant games statistically, 2 performances basal retired among the rest. But a prelude is simply a must. Following Trbojevic's astounding showing against the Warriors successful Round Nine, rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns labelled it connected Nine arsenic "one of the top idiosyncratic performances I person ever seen". But the statistic down Trbojevic's show against the Warriors airy successful examination to the numbers helium produced against the Sharks successful Round 20 and the Cowboys successful Round 25. As Manly toppled Cronulla 40-22, Trbojevic racked up 3 tries, 3 effort assists, 3 line-breaks, 4 line-break assists, 15 tackle busts and 227 tally metres. He whitethorn person past eclipsed that unthinkable crippled successful the North Queensland clash, carving retired 3 tries, 2 effort assists, six line-breaks, 1 line-break assist, 19 tackle busts and 302 tally metres. To headdress it off, the Manly phenom besides iced an astonishing length-of-the-field squad effort aft the full-time siren, which won Dally M Try of the Year, portion different of his tries was made of axenic idiosyncratic magic. Trbojevic broke done 9 tackles arsenic helium darted crossed the tract to people connected the close edge.
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Gus lauds 'once-in-a-generation player'
Tom Trbojevic's 2021 run has been compared by a big of rugby league legends to Jarryd Hayne's spectacular 2009 play and Ben Barba's sublime 2012 season. Former NSW State of Origin manager Phil Gould had tremendous praise for Trbojevic's run connected Nine's 100% Footy. "Tom Trbojevic has had a play retired of this world," Gould said. "His performances person been disconnected the charts, similar I mean disconnected the charts ... This is simply a once-in-a-generation subordinate and the bully happening is he's inactive young capable to beryllium doing this for a fewer much years yet. What a tremendous performance." Former Sharks skipper Paul Gallen would emotion to spot Trbojevic complement his Dally M Medal triumph with a title. "I truly anticipation Turbo wins a premiership," Gallen said. "As bully a subordinate arsenic he's been individually ... bully players are judged connected however galore premierships they triumph oregon if they get to triumph 1 – and helium hasn't won 1 yet. So I anticipation they triumph 1 successful the adjacent mates of years."