The annual Dally M awards have been held at Sydney Town Hall tonight, with Rugby Leagues big names and their wives coming out for the NRL’s night of nights. Prime Minister John Howard choosing to attend the Dally M awards rather than greet George Bush on his arrival into Sydney for APEC.
In the final count down – Jonathan Thurston pipped Robbie Farah by 1 point as the Dally M player of the year. Thurston relived he was awarded 3 points against the Bulldogs in the final Round 25 match, a game he nearly didn’t play in – with coach Murray nearly opting to rest the star halfback.
Here’s the winners of the 2007 individual Dally M awards and how NRL News saw the form of each player:
Rookie Of the Year: Israel Folau
– An obvious choice, the boom Storm youngster scoring a truckload of tries this year, rarely making a mistake and staying healthy to play every single game in 2007. For a kid who still has a few years to grow and improve even more – Folau could be a serious superstar for many years to come if he decides to put religion in his kit bag until he is ready to retire.
Top Try Scorer: Israel Folau and Matt Bowen (Equal)
– Contrasting styles here, the big power game of Israel Folau and the fleet footed, speed machine that is Matt Bowen. While Folau shares the spotlight in the Storm side with plenty of other superstars, Matt Bowen is an individual that is so important to the Cowboys machine. Along with JT, Bowen is the other key component to the North Queensland side winning the big one.
Top Point Scorer: Hazem El Masri
– The stalwart again takes the prize for the most points. Even with his kicking accuracy starting to fade on occasions El Masri still got home. The injury to Luke Burt did help El Masri – but the NSW Origin rep once again earned his stripes.
Captain of the Year: Steve Price
– A good pick here, Pricey has been playing the best Rugby League of his career. At 33 years old, he gets better with age. Providing a settling influence to the Warriors and giving them the edge they needed to succeed this year – Steve Price is a lead from the front man.
Lock of the Year: Dallas Johnson
– The no fuss, hard working tackling machine beat a strong field here. Beating the likes of Greg Bird and Allan Tongue – the Origin rep is a vital part of the Storm defence line and probably doesn’t get enough wraps. Just watch this guy in the finals, he does so much that goes unnoticed.
Provan/Summons Medal: Nathan Hindmarsh
– Seemingly wins this award every year, the public vote again goes to the Eels old stager. Hindmarsh continues to have a clean image on and off the field and obviously strikes a chord with the public, continuing to get votes despite showing off his ‘plumbers crack’ every week.
Winger of the Year: Jarryd Hayne
– Last years Rookie award winner continued his good form and fought off 2nd year syndrome to be a lethal attacking weapon again in 2007. Moved to fullback late in the season to cover for Luke Burt – the skillful Hayne this year earning an Origin jersey for his efforts.
Centre of the Year: Justin Hodges
– The lone ranger for Brisbane of late, the exciting Hodges has been almost impossible to tackle in recent weeks – seemingly beating opposition tacklers with ease. Has matured and is starting to play a senior role these days, beat tough candidates in Timana Tahu and Matt King.
Halfback of the Year: Jonathan Thurston
– In 2007 JT has easily been the standout halfback for the year. Has steppped up a class and taken over the mantle from Andrew Johns quite comfortably. His ability to win a match is right up there with Lockyer and Sonny Bill Williams now – an outright superstar. Obvious choice.
Five Eight of the Year: Darren Lockyer
– A bolter selection, most thinking Braith Anasta did enought after Locky was injured mid season. However, when fit Lockyer is simply the best player in the world. Reads a game brilliantly and is able to conduct offence like no other. The Broncos totally rudderless without him.
Hooker of the Year: Robbie Farah
– Was unlucky to miss the Dally M player of the year by only 1 point. Virtually carried the Tigers on his back in 2007 and outpointing Cameron Smith in 2007 is an achievement in itself. Farah will grow even more in statue after his achievements this year and is sure to be the leader of the Tigers in years to come.
Second Rower of the Year: Anthony Watmough
– The classy Manly forward has been a scary sight for opposing teams, running at full tilt and busting tackles with easy – Watmough’s ever improving game has seen him bag a tonne of tries and employ a nice attacking style that other second rowers are struggling to copy. Has been a vital part of the Manly outfit in 2007.
Prop of the Year: Steve Price
– Another award for the experienced forward. Getting more metres than every other prop, Price beat a top field here. While we thought Luke Bailey might have taken this award, there are no complaints for either Price or Asotasi if they got the award. Playing in a giant pack, the accolades for Price prove just how good the guy is – outshining the likes of Ruben Wiki and others in the dominating Kiwi forward pack.
Fullback of the Year: Matt Bowen
– The candidates were Brett Stewart, Matt Bowen, Wade McKinnon and Karmichael Hunt an amazingly high quality field, but Bowen was the right choice. He has come alive in the past month to get the Cowboys back on track for a real finals assault – it’s no coincidence that his forward pack has helped him out, and they need to continue to do so – allowing the speedster to dance and weave his wave over the line in the coming weeks.
Coach of the Year: Craig Bellamy
– Many thought Bellamy could miss out this year due to the fact he won the coverted award last year. While still very deserving of the award, many punters thought Jason Taylor or Des Hasler may have stolen the prize tonight. Regardless, Bellamy and his close knit team are the pioneers of ground breaking NRL tactics each year – pushing the boundaries and giving their Melbourne team a constant edge. Well deserved.
DALLY M PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jonathan Thurston
– Amazingly just beating Robbie Farah by 1 point, JT will be glad he played in the final game against the Bulldogs where he earned 3 points to ultimately claim the Dally M Prize. A good win in the end for Thurston as he becomes arguably the best player in Rugby League today.