Canberra Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton has won the prestigious Dally M Medal.
In a virtual event at the Fox Sports studios, Wighton became just the third Raider in the 42-year history of the award to win the Dally M Medal, and the first since Laurie Daley in 1995.
In a remarkable finish going down to the final round, Wighton (26 votes) topped polling over Parramatta Eels fullback Clint Gutherson (25 votes) and Penrith Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary (24 votes).
Approaching a dramatic Round 20, all three players could have taken out the Dally M Medal based on the final round of polling.
Multiple former Dally M winner Cameron Smith rounded out the top four with 22 points.
This year’s Dally M Awards for the first time featured a full 13-man team as its Team of the Year.
The Panthers continued their remarkable season, which will culminate in a Grand Final on Sunday, by earning six awards; Coach of the Year Ivan Cleary, Halfback of the Year Nathan Cleary, Prop of the Year James Fisher-Harris, Second Rower of the Year Viliame Kikau, Lock of the Year Isaah Yeo, and Centre of the Year Stephen Crichton.
Their opponents this Sunday in the NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final at ANZ Stadium, Melbourne Storm, scored Winger of the Year Josh Addo-Carr and Hooker of the Year Cameron Smith.
The Warriors, the Club which moved to NSW in order for the NRL Competition to resume this season, were honoured with the Provan-Summons Medal – the Spirit of the Game award. Meanwhile Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was awarded Captain of the Year and Tohu Harris Second Rower of the year.
Brisbane Broncos Captain Ali Brigginshaw will approach a Grand Final in the NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership having been honoured with the Dally M Female Player of the Year award.
Wests Tigers’ young star Harry Grant capped a wonderful season by earning Rookie of the Year honours.
The show also featured a powerful tribute to Arthur Summons and Noel Kelly.
Due to the restrictions prompted by COVID-19, this evening’s ceremony was held in three separate studios at Fox Sports, Artarmon, and featured state-of-the-arts graphics by the Fox Sports broadcast.
This evening’s ceremony featured technology used by Disney to present a live virtual event to honour Rugby League’s best and fairest. It was the first time such technology had been used in Australia.
Fox Sports used all three studios at the same time to ensure hosts and guests were separated, which has never been done for a broadcast before by Fox Sports.
“Tonight we honoured our most exceptional players in an extraordinary season,’’ NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.
“Despite unprecedented challenges our players took our game to a new level in 2020. Tonight we celebrated our very best, those who provided so much excitement and hope during a challenging time in our community.
“Congratulations to Jack on creating history, winning the Dally M Medal in such a tough and uncompromising season. His feats will forever be etched into rugby league folklore.”
The full list of winners is:
Dally M Male Player of the Year – Jack Wighton – Canberra Raiders
Dally M Female Player of the Year – Ali Brigginshaw – Brisbane Broncos
Prop – Josh Papalii – Canberra Raiders
Prop – James Fisher-Harris – Penrith Panthers
Second Row – Viliame Kikau – Penrith Panthers
Second Row - Tohu Harris - Warriors
Lock – Isaah Yeo – Penrith Panthers
Winger – David Nofoaluma – Wests Tigers
Winger - Josh Addo-Carr – Melbourne Storm
Centre – Stephen Crichton – Penrith Panthers
Centre – Kotoni Staggs – Brisbane Broncos
Five-Eighth – Jack Wighton – Canberra Raiders
Halfback – Nathan Cleary – Penrith Panthers
Hooker – Cameron Smith – Melbourne Storm
Fullback – Clint Gutherson – Parramatta Eels
Rookie of the Year – Harry Grant – Wests Tigers
Captain of the Year – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – Warriors
Coach of the Year – Ivan Cleary – Penrith Panthers
Top Points Scorer – Adam Reynolds – South Sydney Rabbitohs
Top Try Scorer (Ken Irvine Medal) – Alex Johnston – South Sydney Rabbitohs
Peter Frilingos Headline Moment: Project Apollo
Provan-Summons – Warriors
Try of the Year - Kotoni Staggs (Brisbane Broncos)
Tackle of the Year - Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders)
Telstra Moments of the Year - Josh Addo-Carr/Cody Ramsey
NRLW Rookie of the Year - Kennedy Cherrington (Sydney Roosters)
NRLW Try of the Year - Madison Bartlett (Warriors)
NRLW Tackle of the Year - Hannah Southwell (Sydney Roosters)