Tue, Sep 25, 11:29am by Staff Writer
The 2018 Dally M Medal will be awarded on Wednesday night, with a host of rugby league’s best players in contention to win the award.
Let’s take a look at some of the leading contenders:
New Zealand Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is favoured to win at $1.90.
The full back was pivotal in a number of the Warriors’ win this season, despite his numbers being less impressive than some of his full back counterparts.
The Warriors made the finals for the first time in seven seasons in 2018.
Tuivasa-Sheck had 92 tackle busts, 10 try assists and 167 metres per game. He was cruelled by injury in the Warriors’ 27-12 loss to Penrith in the semi-finals.
It was a career season for Souths hooker Damien Cook, with the nimble number nine making his first representative appearances for New South Wales in State of Origin.
His biggest asset is his speed around the play the ball and that came to the fore against the Melbourne Storm in a big 30-20 win for the Rabbitohs in a top of the table cash.
Cook is priced at $4.50 to win the Dally M medal on the back of 25 appearances, seven try assists and an average of 104 run metres per game.
Souths finishing the home and away season inside the top four does wonders for Cook’s chances, but it could also work against him.
There are plenty of talented players in the Rabbitohs side that could take points from Cook on Dally M night such as Greg Inglis, Dane Gagai, Adam Reynolds and the Burgess brothers.
He played the full 80 minutes in all bar two games this season and made three appearances for New South Wales.
Holmes began the season playing on the wing and made no secret of the fact that he coveted the full back position at Cronulla.
It was his stellar play for Queensland in the number one jersey that earned him the chance to play his club football at the back and he has dazzled this season.
He has been one of the NRL’s leading try scorers this season with 22 tries and has made 26 line breaks.
It was a career best season for tries for Holmes who eclipsed his mark of 19 tries in 2016, the year Cronulla won the Grand Final.
He averaged over 150 metres per game this season and also kicked Cronulla’s conversions.
Holmes is priced at $5 to win the Dally M medal, but will have to fight off other impressive full backs such as Tuivasa-Sheck and Ponga to take out the award.
Newcastle full back Kalyn Ponga was the favourite to win the award for much of the season until he missed a number of games through injury in the latter stages.
Ponga is $5.50 chance to win the award and was voted the player’s player at the NRL MVP awards a fortnight ago.
He made 20 appearances for the Knights this season and produced six tries and 11 try assists.
He was the team’s first choice goal kicker when fit and made 12 line breaks.
The defensive side of the game is where this electric young full back needs to improve, but he dominated the early part of the season.
Injury forced Ponga to miss games late in the season and he has drifted in price after being favourite to win the Dally M Medal for much of the season.
Tuivasa-Sheck, Cook, Holmes and Ponga are the clear market leaders to win the Dally M medal, with the rest of the players priced in double figures.
The Wests Tigers’ Luke Brooks had a wonderful start to the season as his side beat the Melbourne Storm twice and the Sydney Roosters in the opening five weeks of the season.
His kicking game was the big improvement in 2018, forcing 21 drop outs. He is priced at $23 to win the Dally M.
Cronulla’s Andrew Fifita is the most skillful front rower with ball in hand and adds another layer to Cronulla’s impressive attack.
Representing Tonga in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup seemed to energise him this season, as he averaged nearly 15 hit ups per game and had a tackle efficiency of 93 per cent. Fifita is priced at $26 to win the award.
Best bet- Damien Cook to win the Dally M Medal at $4.50
Dally M Medal Odds
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck $1.90
Damien Cook $4.50
Valentine Holmes $5
Kalyn Ponga $5.50
Luke Brooks $23
Andrew Fifita $26
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