My own Dally M awards
KEYTO’S NRL HITS (and misses) – On Tuesday night Billy Slater was a worthy winner of the Dally M award for best player throughout the 2011 season. I can’t fault any of the award winners and can’t really justify why anyone else should have claimed a category.
Today I name my team of the year – these guys aren’t necessarily the best in their position, but they are the ones I have enjoyed watching. Yep, a popularity contest!
Fullback – Josh Hoffman (Broncos)
It’s a real shame injury has punctuated his season but Hoffman showed enough in his 16 games to prove he is an absolute gem. He’s been a more than worthy heir to Karmichael Hunt and will be New Zealand’s main fullback for a long time. Great in defence, attack and counter-attack. Also wonderful at a live match to sit behind the posts and watch Hoffman organise defenders.
Wing – Akuila Uate (Rabbitohs)
He’s an excitement machine the NRL could build a marketing campaign on, not to mention a superstar player and, from all reports, a wonderful person too. Aku was probably the most feared NSW player this Origin series and will play for Australia in October. Best part is – the term ‘Uate Party’ will be in full song next year!
Centre – Steve Matai (Sea Eagles)
I know there’s a bit of rubbish in his game but I don’t care. Steve Matai is one guy I always look for when Manly play. I think his attack is underrated but Matai seems like the ideal guy you want to play alongside. Let’s just say I’d rather be with him than against him.
Five-Eighth – Darren Lockyer (Broncos)
Best player I’ve ever seen playing his final season – Enough Said.
Halfback – Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles)
I had seen a little bit and heard plenty about this guy last year in the Queensland Cup and DCE has lived up to the hype. I loved his enthusiasm, skill and coolness this year and it was really good to watch him live last week. Cherry-Evans was a deserved rookie of the year winner and a future Queensland Origin player.
Front Row – Josh McGuire (Broncos)
Anyone who calls himself “Big Show” after a couple of NRL games is a winner in my book! I loved watching his development this season and was thrilled he did so well playing 80 minutes last weekend. Having Petero at the club next year will do wonders for McGuire.
Hooker – Josh Reynolds (Bulldogs)
He was a late nomination but I really like the cut of his jib and needed to find a spot for him in my side. Reynolds looked like a real tenacious competitor and there is plenty to like in his game. I’m not sure where his best position is, but he should become a regular in the Bulldogs side next season.
Back Row – Tariq Sims (Cowboys)
I saw him play for the Broncos 20s last year and it’s been great to see him explode onto the NRL scene with the Cowboys. He’s strong, aggressive and skilful – the modern back-rower. Injury has cut short his season but Sims will play for NSW next year.
Lock –Michael Crocker (Rabbitohs)
An old favourite of mine and it’s been great to watch him in a new role – the old head amongst a group of young, flamboyant Rabbitohs. Injuries hammered their season but Crocker, with Ben Ross, largely held things together. That, plus the great unknown, made their matches must-see TV.
Rookie – DCE (Sea Eagles), special mention Jack Reed (Broncos)
Jack Reed comes in a respectable second for my rookie award. He’s done a fabulous job with the Broncos and is proof there is still room for regular “footballers” in the NRL. He was one Inglis or Hodges failed fitness test away from a Queensland debut this season in my opinion and will push hard next year. Reed isn’t the flashiest or the prettiest player in the league, but he will be a damn fine one.
Tips – Tigers, Broncos, Cowboys, Storm
Last Week – 6/8
Total – 121/192 (63%)
Enjoy the Finals,