10.22PM: Taumalolo reckons he’s no better in 2016 than he was last year, despite notching Player’s Champion and Dally M wins this season.
His co-medallist Cooper Cronk, who speaks glowingly about his teammates and Taumalolo, hopes that he doesn’t run any harder “or I’ll be getting out of the way of him”.
So, that brings our blog to an end. You can click through the photos above for a recap of the winners and a glimpse of the red carpet.
Thanks for following with us, and don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the result in the comments below.
10.16PM: Here we go. Cronk got no points.
Neither did Taumalolo.
It’s a draw!
10.14PM: Immortal Andrew Johns to announce the Dally M medallist. Notes he thought Josh Hodgson would be the one.
Cronk or Taumalolo?
10.08PM: Team of the year unveiled:
- Fullback of the year: James Tedesco
- Winger of the year: Josh Mansour
- Centre of the year: Joseph Leilua
- Five-eighth of the year: James Maloney
- Halfback of the year: Cooper Cronk
- Lock of the year: Jason Taumalolo
- Second-rower of the year: Matt Gillett
- Front rower of the year: Jesse Bromwich
- Hooker of the year: Cameron Smith
- Top points scorer: Jarrod Croker
- Top tryscorer: Suliasi Vunivalu
10.06PM: Round 25: Jason Taumalolo matches Cooper Cronk’s 26 points as teammate Johnathan Thurston moves level with Cameron Smith on 22 points.
Cronk or Taumalolo, who won Player’s Champion earlier this month?
10.04PM: Round 24 tallying underway with a montage (sorry).
Cronk, Taumalolo and Smith still the top three. They remain in that order with two rounds to etch into the book.
10.01PM: Kezie Apps takes the honour, the second recipient ever of this award. She thanks her mum for the 10-hour drive from the dairy farm to the footy paddock, after acknowledging Mum probably wasn’t watching.
She might be catching up on sleep after all that driving.
10PM: Darren Lockyer and NSW Swift Sharni Lleyton to present the female player of the year. It’s a husky voice competition among those two, not the nominees.
- Simaima Taufa
- Kezie Apps
- Samantha Bremner
- Brittany Breayley
- Ruan Sims
9.54PM: Back to the tally we go to grab the Dally M voting numbers from Rd 23.
Nobody in the top ten gains points but Josh Hodgson slides three points due to a suspension.
That means Cronk leads Taumalolo, Smith, Moses and Norman in that order.
9.49PM The Peter Frilingos Memorial Award is up next, recognising a headline moment in the season.
Anthony Milford claims that one for his field goal in a grand final rematch that carried the Broncos over the Cowboys.
9.48PM: The winner is Jayden Brailey from the Sharks.
If you’re looking for a grand final omen, that’s one apiece between Melbourne and Cronulla so far.
9.46PM: Knights and NSW legend Danny Buderus and Olympic diver Melissa Wu handing out the Holden Cup player of the year.
- Jayden Brailey
- Kalyn Ponga
- Zac Woolford
- Jai Field
9.42PM: Back to the main voting we go. The new top three is Jason Taumalolo (21 points), Cooper Cronk (20 points) and then Cameron Smith (19 points).
A round later Cronk leads on 23, Taumalolo on 21 and Cameron Smith back at 20.
For those playing at home, Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson has 19 and the Tigers’ Mitchell Moses 18.
Cooper Cronk reckons it’ll come down to the last round, and my maths isn’t good enough to contradict him.
9.38PM: Cameron Smith wins it, again. Just like Origin.
“There could have been a few Blues players in there,” he says diplomatically.
Yeah. Maybe Greg Inglis.
9.37PM: Rep player of the year now. Only Queenslanders.
- Johnathan Thurston
- Darius Boyd
- Cooper Cronk
- Cameron Smith
9.30PM: To recap, Jarrod Croker has been named Captain of the Year and received the Provan Summons medal.
His coach, Ricky Stuart, was named the NRL’s best for the year while Titan Ash Taylor won rookie of the year.
Dragon Joel Thompson received the Ken Stephens medal for work in the community.
In the race for the Dally M medal, Cooper Cronk and Jason Taumalolo share pole position. Eel Corey Norman is a single point behind them, with seven rounds of voting yet to be revealed.
9.28PM: Host Tony Squires pays tribute to Max Walker before a lovely video tribute and a short break.
9.27PM: Johnathan Thurston doesn’t seem to be too upset, having just missed out on the Provan Summons Medal.
“I’m just sitting back having a few reds,” he laughs.
9.25PM: The injured Canberra captain takes his second award for the evening.
“I certainly didn’t expect it,” he says. “It’s all about the boys and the club.”
9.21PM: Provan Summons Medal time. This one’s the fan choice, and the men for which it is named will hand it out.
Norm Provan palms off questions about his health after missing last year. “I’ll be here forever,” he deadpans.
Provan backs the Sharks to claim a premiership, and Summons replies that he doesn’t care. Fair enough.
- Jarrod Croker (Canberra)
- Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys)
- James Tedesco (Tigers)
- Josh Hodgson (Canberra)
9.18PM: Dragon Joel Thompson receives the honour.
He mentors 30 children, Lara Pitt explains, and Thompson says he’s humbled just to be nominated.
“I come from a remote community and I see the struggles out there,” he explains. “We have a massive effect out there.”
9.15PM: Ken Stephen Medal is next, recognising players who givenback to the community. If you’re off to pub trivia this week, Wayne Pearce was the first recipient.
...and the nominees are:
- Kane Evans
- Sia Soliola
- Joel Thompson
- Tim Mannah
9.13AM: After Round 17, Cronk and Taumalolo went two points clear of the chasers on 18 points.
..and that’s where they both stayed at the end of Round 19, with Corey Norman moving to within one.
Seven rounds to go.
9.10PM: Greg Alexander and Matty Johns are “taking you on a Dally M journey”, running us through the tally when voting went behind closed doors.
Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith, Jason Taumalolo and Ryan James were tied leaders of the ladder when it was hidden from Round 17 onwards.
And we’re back into montage territory, which I’ll stop noting because it might become tedious at this rate.
9.07PM: Ricky Stuart claims the gong, putting the Raiders two from two in the early going.
“I just love being back home,” Stuart says before wishing both Bellamy and Flanagan all the best for the grand final.
9.06PM: Mark Donaldson and Mal Meninga delivering Coach of the Year. The field, just before the montage lands:
- Craig Bellamy (Storm)
- Shane Flanagan (Sharks)
- Ricky Stuart (Raiders)
- Neil Henry (Titans)
8.58PM: Lots of shots of players and partners during this speech, which includes a rejection of the plebiscite on the basis rugby league already offers equality.
“There’s an opportunity for everyone to be a part of our game,” Greenberg says.
Also a plea for leaders of the game to talk it up rather than disparage it.
“Talking the game down is not the rugby league I know,” he says. “We value our values. There is a lot more that unites rugby league fans than divides us.”
Yeah. We can have this chat later, I reckon. Time for another award.
8.56PM: Todd Greenberg up to present an award after Shane Flanagan described grand final week as “pretty normal”. I need to spend more time in The Shire, I think.
Treasurer Scott Morrison also just got outed as a Sharks tragic. Make of that what you will.
8.52PM: Quick montage break before Jarrod Croker gets the nod in his second year leading the Raiders around.
Nice to see Canberra get some silverware in grand final week after going so close to a berth in the big game.
8.50PM: Emma McKeon here with Braith Anasta to present captain of the year.
The field includes:
- Johnathan Thurston & Matt Scott (Cowboys)
- Cameron Smith (Storm)
- Jarrod Croker (Canberra)
- James Graham (Bulldogs)
8.47PM:Ash Taylor takes out Rookie of the Year over a field including Latrell Mitchell, Suliasi Vunivalu and Nathan Cleary. Tough competition there.
8.46PM: The Rookie of the Year nominees:
- Ash Taylor (Titans)
- Suliasi Vunivalu (Storm)
- Latrell Mitchell (Roosters)
- Nathan Cleary (Panthers)
8.45PM: Pentathlon gold medallist Chloe Esposito and Sam Burgess to present an award. We get an Esposito montage, of course, but that’s a winner – could watch that win on a loop for a year.
8.41PM: Cameron Smith knocks back suggestion he’s in the running for top honours. Instead it’s Raiders rake Josh Hodgson or “my little mate” Cooper Cronk.
James Maloney also nominates rival five-eighth Anthony Milford to pip him in the voting. No extra votes for humility, fellas, but definitely worth a crack.
8.40PM: Here we go. Tony Squires on the stage with a quick quip about consorting. Too soon?
Squires promises he’ll “be in the sports bar by 10.30” but we’re already ten minutes and two montages deep on the telecast. Imagine what Sunday’s going to look like.
8.37PM: Rugby league loves a montage. We’re straight into it tonight, reliving the season with a voice-over that sounds like it was delivered by Roy Billing.
8.30PM: Welcome to our live updates from the Dally Ms from Sydney’s Star casino tonight.
No awards so far – just a band featuring members of Jet, Powderfinger, You Am I and Spiderbait is kicking off the awards telecast with an AC/DC cover – “High Voltage”.