NRL Qualifying Final - Roosters v Rabbitohs
NRL Qualifying Final - Roosters v Rabbitohs

Fresh faces in new-look Dally M team of the year

It's a new-look Dally M team of the year, with just one player backing up from the 2018 edition and seven players claiming positional awards for the first time.

No prizes for guessing who landed at fullback - Sydney Roosters star James Tedesco was a standout all season and claimed the prize for the second time after first winning it with Wests Tigers in 2016.

Given how the Tricolours star and Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith went down to the wire for the overall player of the year award, Tedesco and Smith were always going to be walk-up starts.

It's the eighth time Smith has won hooker of the year and he overtook Johnathan Thurston as the man with the most positional awards.

Cameron Munster (Storm) was the only man backing up from last year, taking five-eighth of the year honours for the second year in a row.

Outside of those three stalwarts, there were a host of new faces.

 

 

After earlier claiming rookie of the year, Payne Haas was named the competition's best prop in 2019 - in his debut year.

The field included established stars such as Josh Papalii and David Klemmer, but the rise of Haas was undeniable, rapidly justifying the hype and deservedly securing State of Origin selection for NSW after just 10 first grade games.

He was the first rookie to be named in a team of the year since Steve Menzies in 1994, and the first to double up with the rookie of the year award.

Another young star, Latrell Mitchell, won centre of the year after he was overlooked for Joey Leilua in 2018.

The Roosters star was the leading points-scorer and crossed for 18 tries in the regular season, the most of any centre in the competition, and was always a threat at the SCG, where he piled on the points like he was gun Test batsman Steve Smith.

 

The Dally M team of the year — minus Cameron Smith — is unveiled at the Hordern Pavillion, Sydney. Picture: Brett Costello
The Dally M team of the year — minus Cameron Smith — is unveiled at the Hordern Pavillion, Sydney. Picture: Brett Costello

 

It was a tough season for the Warriors but Ken Maumalo was a consistent and productive performer on the wing, making the third most metres in the competition and crossing for a career-best 17 tries to be named winger of the year ahead of Parramatta duo Maika Sivo and Blake Ferguson.

In a measure of the improvements in Maumalo's game, he scored 14 tries in the four seasons before this year, so he more than doubled his career tally in his best year in first grade.

Parramatta landed one positional award, with Mitchell Moses being named halfback of the year ahead of Newcastle's Mitchell Pearce and former Tigers teammate Luke Brooks.

The Eels rose from last in 2018 to the top six this year, thanks in no small part to Moses, who dazzled with his kicking game and led the league in try assists.

 

 

Grand finalists Canberra had one player named, with tough English second-rower John Bateman taking the prize in his first year in the NRL.

The former Wigan and Bradford man had a transformative impact on the Raiders this year and will be one of their key players in Sunday's grand final against the Roosters at ANZ Stadium.

Tonga international Jason Taumalolo was trying to win the lock of the year award for the fourth time in five years but the North Queensland colossus was upstaged by South Sydney's Cameron Murray.

Murray was a deserving winner, helping Souths to another top-four berth and dazzling with his speed and ability to break tackles around the ruck.

It was another Storm star who secured the interchange player of the year award, as Brandon Smith won recognition for his all-action style.

A hooker by trade, Smith's intensity and energy off the bench are a highlight whenever the Storm play, and it was hard to begrudge the Kiwi international his due in making the team of the year.

 

 

 

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Replay the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final in full on KAYO SPORTS. Get your 14 day free trial and start streaming instantly >