NRL 2013: Dally M Medal Preview

A week remains until the 2013 NRL season kicks off. Today we look at the candidates for the Dally M Medal.

Dally M Medal

After watching the All Stars game it appeared last year’s Dally M winner was value at $8. Well, a lot has changed and with the Bulldogs’ suspension of Ben Barba goes their most attacking weapon. The current Dally M winner appears to be at the crossroads at a personal level however with the help of his club, team mates and family we are sure Barba will come through the other side a more complete person and possibly an even better player.

Barba was favourite at $8 but has now drifted out to $15. As each week goes by with no news of a return to the NRL, Barba’s price can only drift. That uncertainty has thrown betting on its head and the mercurial Greg Inglis now leads the betting at $7. We are prepared to take him on at that price not having finished in the top 10 in 2012. Jonathan Thurston is next at $8 and the dual Dally M winner (2005, 2007) now probably deserves to be favourite. He was Dally M Five-eighth of the Year last year and finished fourth in Player of the Year polling. He is never far away from the votes and if the Cowboys have the tear we all expect, then it will be in no small way attributable to Thurston. That means votes.

Next in the betting is Melbourne Storm halfback Cooper Cronk at $9. Cronk was runner-up to Barba last year and was leading when Dally M votes went behind closed doors after round 16. He has been Halfback of the Year the last two seasons and again will prove tough to beat. Next comes Billy Slater at $13 (2011 winner), Jarryd Hayne at $15 (2009 winner), Benji Marshall at $15 and Mitchell Pearce at $15, the latter two both premier halves.

In 2010 Todd Carney won the coveted award, again a five-eighth, and the $41 on offer does look tasty. All these stats and figures point to the fact that a playmaker is likely to be the winner. Since 1998 only Danny Buderus (Hooker), Cam Smith (Hooker), Jarryd Hayne (Fullback), Billy Slater (Fullback) and Ben Barba (Fullback) have won the award and not been part of a halves combination. In all cases they were game breakers and players who controlled the tempo of games.

Given all the stats mentioned above it looks unlikely that a player who is not part of a team’s spine is capable of winning the Dally M. We will however give a special mention to English International Sam Burgess. Burgess had an interrupted preparation to 2012 because of a shoulder injury he received at the end of 2011. He played 22 games because of knee trouble and still finished with 19 votes last season. If the medical staff can keep him free of injury this season, he will give it a shake.

We like Burgess and Carney at the odds and think Thurston is the one to beat.

The Baron’s Tip: Todd Carney