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Can we avoid another Churchill Medal fiasco?

Expect Daly Cherry-Evans to perform against the Titans this weekend - but not against the Blues. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Roar Guru
3rd October, 2015
27
1850 Reads

In ordinary NRL games, the man of the match is decided by the television commentators at the end of the game.

This goes from Round 1 right through to finals Week 3. It also includes rep fixtures. More often than not, they get it right. But when it comes to the Clive Churchill Medal, a team of experts picks the winner.

The problem is, they keep getting it wrong. Last year Sam Burgess won the medal. Greg Inglis had a much better and more influential game than Sam Burgess.

And what about 2013? Daly Cherry-Evans did not deserve the Churchill Medal. He was not even close to the best player on the field. It could have gone to at least three Roosters players, especially James Maloney ahead of Cherry-Evans.

That award was rigged to go to Cherry-Evans in my mind. Another controversial one was 1991. Brad Clyde was awarded the medal despite being on the losing side.

Mark Geyer was the best player in the game and the most influential in Penrith’s victory. Mind you, he got sin binned which probably killed off his chances of winning the award. In 1993 the Churchill Medal was won by Brad Mackay despite not only being on the losing side, but being on the side that conceded three tries to nil.

How can the best player in the match be on the losing side? In 2001 Andrew Johns was awarded the medal even though Ben Kennedy was the best player on the ground.

When Craig Fitzgibbon won the award in 2002, it should have gone to Brad Fittler.

Sometimes they get it right. In 1997 Robbie O’Davis was the best player in the game. I would agree Brett Kimmorley was a worthy recipient in 1999. Luke Priddis was terrific in 2003 for Penrith.

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The only excuse I have ever heard as to why they keep getting it wrong is that the award recipient is selected 20 minutes before the end of the game so the medal can be engraved.

If that is true then it is the dumbest idea I have ever heard. Here is a hypothetical. In today’s game between Brisbane and North Queensland let’s pretend the Cowboys are up 16-12 after 60 minutes.

Johnathan Thurston and Ben Hunt are both having 9/10 games. The Churchill Medal judges decide to award it to Thurston. After 65 minutes Thurston goes off injured and doesn’t return. Ben Hunt then sets up three tries, the Broncos win and Hunt and is easily the best player in the game. The boys from Brisbane end up winning 30-16 but Thurston is still awarded the Churchill Medal despite Hunt’s superiority.

If the above theory about the decision with 20 minutes left is true, it needs changing. Why don’t they just decide the man of the match at the end of the game and award the winner a replica medal until they get the actual one engraved and give it to the winner at a later stage?

I just hope the winner of the Clive Churchill Medal on Sunday is the man who deserves it most.

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