North Queensland and Test halfback Johnathan Thurston admits his inability to add to his Dally M points since returning from injury shows he needs to lift his form for the NRL finals.
Thurston was left stuck on the 24 points he had polled to lead the count when voting for the game’s most prestigious individual prize went behind closed doors.
He missed five games after injuring his knee in State of Origin III and only returned a month ago.
Melbourne fullback Billy Slater claimed the medal on Tuesday night after a stunning season for the minor premiers.
Asked about his Dally M polling, Thurston conceded he was still getting back to his best.
“My form’s been not good enough for our team,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“I know I’ve got a job to do within the team and 16 other blokes do as well.
“It’s just about making sure we get a good preparation this week and make sure we don’t leave anything in the tank.”
Thurston, who also missed out on the halfback of the year gong to Queensland team-mate Cooper Cronk, was philosophical about the main award he has won twice before.
“You need to be on the paddock to get points obviously,” he said.
“Billy’s a deserved winner there and he’s had a great season so I’m very happy for him.”
The Cowboys have set up camp in Sydney ahead of Saturday’s do-or-die qualifying final against Manly.
In a classic master versus apprentice battle, Thurston will come up against Dally M rookie of the year Daly Cherry-Evans at the Sydney Football Stadium.
“I’m a fan of his,” Thurston said.
“He’s got a great kicking game, he’s got good vision, can tackle, takes the line on so no doubt he’s got a big future in the game.
“As a team we certainly need to try to put a bit of pressure on him to limit his opportunities.”
Meanwhile, the Cowboys announced they had signed boom forward Tariq Sims until the end of the 2015 season.