At the halfway point of the 2020 NRL season, I discussed who the most valuable player was for each club.
My argument was that without this player on the field, the club would not be able to win the premiership.
So with nearly every club announcing their player of the year recipients, let’s compare my mid-season selections to the actual award winners.
Paul Morgan medalists: Patrick Carrigan and Payne Haas
My MVP choice: Payne Haas
Was half right with this one. Payne Haas was a shining light for the wooden spooners, not succumbing to the ill-fated second-year syndrome. Carrigan too stood out.
Dr George Peponis medalist: Kieran Foran
My MVP choice: Kieran Foran
The 30-year-old Kiwi got more than usual gametime this season and showed how truly talented he is, despite his lengthy injury history.
The tough and direct style of play the halfback displayed each week earned his selection as Canterbury’s best and fairest, a much-deserved award.
North Queensland Cowboys
Paul Bowman medalist: Jason Taumalolo
My MVP choice: Jason Taumalolo
One of the most powerful locks the game has seen, ‘JT the second’ has rightfully won his fifth player of the year award in 2020 – an absolute standout for the Cowboys every year and an obvious choice.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Roy Bull medalist: TBA
My MVP choice: Tom Trbojevic
The club decided to delay their player of the year announcement until 2021. One thing for sure is it won’t be Tommy Turbo, who played only one match after being injured in Round 6. My guess is that it will be awarded to their captain, Daly Cherry-Evans, who appeared in every game in 2020, but for mine a healthy Trbojevic would have been their best.
St George Illawarra Dragons
Dragons player of the year medalist: Cameron McInnes
My MVP choice: Cameron McInnes
A true captain in every sense of the word. Leading from the front and displaying much heart each match in 2020, the South Sydney junior’s consistency for his club every week made him the deserved best and fairest medallist.
Kelly-Barnes medalist: David Nofoaluma
My MVP choice: Harry Grant
The Dally M winger of the year versus the Dally M rookie of the year. I, along with the rest of the rugby league world, would agree that Harry Grant is a special player, hence why their supporters want him to stay. But even without Grant, Nofoaluma found a way to provide that x-factor every week and create something from nothing.
Tough one, but I’ll concede defeat.
New Zealand Warriors
Simon Mannering medalist: Tohu Harris
My MVP choice: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
RTS’s three-year streak was finally broken by barnstorming second-rower Tohu Harris. Playing in every game this season and barely missing a tackle, the decision to award the Dally M second-rower of the year as the Warriors’ best and fairest was a super close call, making it difficult for me to decipher my MVP choice.
But I’ll stick with Roger.
Gold Coast Titans
Paul Broughton medalist: Brian Kelly
My MVP choice: Anthony Don
A surprise packet, despite how well Kelly played in 2020, but as good as the Titans finished their season – equalising their record winning streak of five in a row – AJ Brimson was a major reason. If the Queensland fullback was injury-free, he would have taken out the title.
Good times ahead Titans fans.
Monty Porter medalist: Shaun Johnson
My MVP choice: Wade Graham
Shaun Johnson had a decent injury-free run, although when he was out, it was telling for an inconsistent side. The Kiwi halfback proved to be an important cog and displayed his superstar form. He was sorely missed in their finals game, further proof why he was the best and fairest Sharks player this season and my new MVP.
Danny Buderus medalist: Kalyn Ponga
My MVP choice: Daniel Saifiti
Another tough call for another inconsistent team, the energetic Ponga is a clear bright spark for his side and the one they needed. He is probably the true MVP, despite how important the emergence of Daniel Saifiti is.
The rise of Ponga is just beginning, so he qualifies as my new MVP.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
George Piggins medalist: Cody Walker
My MVP choice: Damien Cook
At the time of writing my mid-season MVP article, the Rabbitohs were running tenth. Come finals time, the Rabbitohs won nine from 11 and nearly qualified for the grand final.
A lot of this came down to the form spike of their five-eighth, Cody Walker, with Damien Cook also a valuable contributor. Overall, the MVP is leaning more so to Walker, but just narrowly.
Mal Meninga medalists: Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii
My MVP choice: Josh Papalii
The 2020 Dally M medallist and the Dally M prop of the year were tremendous this season and deserved Mal Meninga medallists. There isn’t much more to add here, these two players were clear standouts.
Jack Gibson medalist: James Tedesco
My MVP choice: Luke Keary
The Italian and Australian representative’s third medal in a row. There is no doubting the 2019 Dally M winner’s stance as one of the game’s current superstars, so it is no surprise Teddy was named the Rooster’s best again. I am happy to admit defeat for this MVP selection, despite how close Keary would have been.
Ken Thornett medalist: Clint Gutherson
My MVP choice: Dylan Brown
King Gutho. The Prince of Parramatta. Whichever royal title you prefer, the Dally M Fullback of the Year and near-Dally M medallist, Gutherson truly deserved his selection as the club’s best player in 2020 – which was particularly evident towards the backend of the season.
Storm player of the year medalist: Cameron Smith
MVP choice: Cameron Smith
Who else? One of the most consistent performers over his 19-year career, the future Immortal nabbed his eighth medal for best and fairest, again proving how vital the Dally M Hooker of the Year is.
Merv Cartwright medalist: TBA
My MVP choice: Nathan Cleary
Leading his team to the NRL grand final, Clearly was narrowly pipped for the Dally M medal, before being awarded the RLPA Player’s Champion, as well as the Brad Fittler medal for NSW Blues best player in the Origin series.
Although not announced yet, the likely and deserved recipient of Penrith’s best and fairest of 2020 will be the Dally M Halfback of the Year.