Wed, Jul 18, 11:42am by Staff Writer
Newcastle fullback Kalyn Ponga is the $3.75 favourite to claim his first Dally M medal after a breakout year with the Knights.
Ponga is atop the leaderboard after 18 rounds, tied with Penrith five-eighth James Maloney.
Ponga’s impact on the Knights this season has been above expectations, as he has provided a spark in attack and a point of difference across the park.
What is counting against him is that he is currently sidelined through injury. With the Knights seemingly out of finals contention, there will be no rush for him to return to the side ahead of schedule. Ponga played his first game for Queensland in State of Origin this season in Sydney. He was instrumental in his 55 minute stint and will be a valuable representative asset in the future.
South Sydney’s Damien Cook is second favourite to take out the Dally M after a stellar season with the Rabbitohs.
Cook is $6 at Sportsbet to claim the award for the top-of-the-table Bunnies.
His play from hooker has been catching opposition defences off guard week after week and he was rewarded with a State of Origin guernsey by Brad Fittler.
He has been durable this season and with Robbie Farah leaving the club, there is little reason for coach Anthony Seibold to rest Cook ahead of the finals, given their lack of depth at his position.
St George’s Gareth Widdop was the main reason behind the Dragons table topping early season form and is $8 to claim his first Dally M medal.
He is currently on 16 points, but with the Dragons now back to full strength after Origin, look for him to accumulate points in the closing rounds.
The same can be said for Penrith’s James Maloney. Maloney is tied with Ponga on 20 points atop the leaderboard and is $8 to take out the award.
In his first season at Penrith, Maloney has provided a steadying influence to a young side hunting a top four berth.
2017 medalist Cameron Smith opted out of representative duties this season, with Melbourne Storm going through club football during State of Origin undefeated for the first time in team history.
Smith is $9 to claim back-to-back Dally M’s and with the Storm nicely placed ahead of the finals, he should accumulate plenty of points in the closing rounds.
New Zealand Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck would become the first player from the Warriors to win the Dally M medal and is $10 to do so.
He is second on the leaderboard on 18 points and has been a big part of the Warriors success this season. With the Warriors having a history of fading away in the latter part of the regular season, he may struggle to accumulate points should history repeat.
2016 winner Jason Taumalolo is a $34 chance to receive a second Dally M, but with his Cowboys side in the bottom four, there is little chance that he will make up a seven point deficit in the standings this late in the season.
Cameron Munster from the Melbourne Storm has only 12 points through 18 rounds, which is surprising given that he has been instrumental in a number of the Storm’s victories this season. His price of $41 is overs and if he can string together a couple of strong games, he could make a late charge.
Dally M Medal Sportsbet Markets
Kalyn Ponga $3.75
Damien Cook $6
Gareth Widdop $8
James Maloney $8
Cameron Smith $9
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck $10
Luke Brooks $13
Andrew Fifita $13
Ashley Taylor $23
Jason Taumalolo $34
Cameron Munster $41
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