There has been plenty of conjecture each year the Dally M award ceremony has been held, mainly surrounding the current process in which the NRL’s best and fairest player is chosen.
In its current format, the NRL has appointed a panel of judges comprised from 29 ex-players, selecting one of them for each match to assess the top three players in said match on a 3-2-1 point system.
A problem with this format is with one judge there may be bias towards certain teams and players seeing as the judge is an ex-NRL player. It is also arguably more difficult for individual players to consistently stand out in a strong side, particularly when you look at this year’s grand finalists in the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm.
The ARL chairman Peter V’Landys has touted a possible change to the system which would direct judges to rate each player on the field between 1-10, with the player with the highest accumulated points at the conclusion of the regular season awarded the Dally M medal.
The rate-out-of-10 system is seen only as an opinion-based article for Test matches, state of origin and NRL finals, yet it definitely has a lot of merit to it if implemented as an official points-based ranking system.
But I propose an alternative that, although it may appear to be a minor change, will ensure a much fairer process.
The NRL should select a voting panel made up of around 15 ex-players, ex-coaches, ex-referees and journos involved with the NRL to ensure the spread of knowledge and experience in the game rather than limiting it to ex-players alone.
The new voting panel would then be assigned to each NRL game of each round, meaning all 15 judges must submit their 3-2-1 votes for every match. This is opposed to a single judge being selected for a single match every round or so as per the current system.
After each judge submits their votes, the scores are accumulated and the three highest-scoring players receive the 3-2-1 points respectively.
These minor tweaks to the Dally M point-adjudication system will likely mitigate any biases when the same 15-judge panel is scoring every match of the regular season, highlighting who the best three players on the field actually were during a match and ultimately the best and fairest for the season.
With the voting system being tweaked for the best and fairest, it is also fitting that the players scoring highest on the point tally be chosen for the Dally M starting XIII team of the year as well.
The move in 2020 to name the best starting XIII was a masterstroke from the NRL, although in future the player(s) scoring the highest points in their position on the Dally M tally should receive the award, unlike this year when Kotoni Staggs was named centre of the year and Isaah Yeo lock of the year when Zac Lomax and Jason Taumalolo received more points than them respectively.
Taking nothing away from this year’s deserved winners, I just believe that a player scoring the highest in their position should reflect that they are named the best for the year, and the tweaking of the voting system would back that.
Furthermore, to avoid the embarrassment of leaking and alleged corruption in the voting system, I believe it has become a necessity to make voting non-transparent to the public for the entire season.
So what say you, Roarers?
Do we keep the current system, tweak the current system or overhaul it as V’Landys suggested?