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Darren Lockyer will live to regret his Wally Lewis Medal explanation

Billy Slater is chaired off after his last game for Queensland after game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Expert
13th July, 2018
51

“Billy Slater was well in front of anyone else,” was how Darren Lockyer explained how the Queensland captain took out the Wally Lewis Medal as Origin man-of-the-series award, despite missing the first game through injury.

Lockyer was one of three selectors with Mal Meninga and Laurie Daley. The three share 91 Origin and 131 Kangaroo caps, arguably the most experienced trio in the code’s history.

Yet the public outcry since Wednesday night has gone through the roof.

Billy Slater

Billy Slater is chaired off the field (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

And mostly it’s been Lockyer’s explanation that simply doesn’t cut the mustard.

As well as Slater played in the last two games, it wasn’t mathematically possible that “nobody was close to him”.

Daley made a far more sensible explanation with “Billy Slater won fairly under the system”.

And therein lies the problem – the system is wrong.

The three selectors handed out 4-3-2-1 points for each of the three Origins, and that obviously turned up a ridiculous decision.

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In future, the only fair points method would be for the three selectors to individually rate every Origin player who takes the field with points out of 10. The NRL has already announced it is considering changes to the voting system.

After three games every player will have a total, and there is the winner of the man-of-the-series.

I did that system for this series, and Slater wasn’t way in front. In fact he was way behind.

Under the system I used, there were 15 players in front of Slater.

James Tedesco (NSW) – 9.5 – 7 – 7 – total 23.5.
Valentine Holmes (Queensland) – 7.5 – 7.5 – 8.5 – 23.5.
James Maloney (NSW) – 9 – 8 – 6 – 23.
Damien Cook (NSW) – 8.5 – 7 – 9.5 – 23.
Tom Trbojevic (NSW) – 8.5 – 7 – 7.5 – 23.
Jake Trbojevic (NSW) – 7.5 – 7.5 – 8 – 23.
Boyd Cordner (NSW) – 8.5 – 7 – 7 – 22.5.
Dane Gagai (Queensland) – 8 – 7 – 6.5 – 21.5.
Cameron Muster (Queensland) – 5.5 – 6.5 – 8 – 20.
Jack de Belin (NSW) – 6 – 8 – 6 – 20.
Tyson Frizell (NSW) – 7 – 6 – 7 – 20.
Gavin Cooper (Queensland) – 6 – 6 – 7.5 – 19.5.
David Klemmer (NSW) – 7 – 5.5 – 7 – 19.5.
Nathan Cleary (NSW) – 6 – 6.5 – 6.5 – 19.
Felese Kaufusi (Queensland) – 4 – 7 – 8 – 19.
Billy Slater (Queensland) – 0 – 8 – 9 – 17.

Sharing a medal isn’t on, so Tedesco wins on two counts – he was on the winning side, and his best points tally of 9.5 was better than Holmes’ 8.5.

But the telling stat is ten from NSW, and five from Queensland, finished ahead of Billy Slater.

To be fair, the look on Slater’s face when Wally Lewis placed the coveted medal around his neck was one of astonishment, not delight.

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He knew it wasn’t possible when he played in only two of the three games.

And what make the decision even more amazing, the selectors were banned by the NRL from mathematically proving their decision.

Now it’s up to the NRL to support the full bottle of awarding points out of ten to every player who takes the field in all three games.

If the NRL can come up with something better, I’ll be all for it.

There’s just one thing for certain, the 4-3-2-1 points system is fatally flawed.