There are few greater honours for a rugby league player than to win a Dally M Medal.
The honour roll for the award reads like a who's who of rugby league - with the likes of Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Jason Taumalolo, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Cooper Cronk and Jason Taumalolo the most recent winners.
But who will claim the award for 2020? Harry Grant led the way when voting went behind closed doors after round 10. Since then a lot has happened.
The experts at NRL.com have had their say on who they think will be receiving the medal on Monday night.
Cameron Smith should win the Dally M Medal this year. There has been no-one close to him for consistently great performances week-to-week. He missed a few Storm games with injury but he has been so dominant in the games he has played that it should be enough.
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Nathan Cleary will win the Dally M in 2020. He has shown leadership and a maturity that has taken his team to the minor premiership. Penrith won a lot of games and he was always among their best.
Nathan Cleary and Clint Gutherson will be up there but I'm not going to discount Jack Wighton to take out the medal. Wighton was three points behind Harry Grant when voting went behind closed doors and the Raiders went on to win eight of their last 10 games with Wighton starring.
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Just like unheralded halfback Barry Russell did to red-hot favourite Gavin Miller in 1988, the biggest threat to Nathan Cleary winning this year's top individual honour could come from teammate Api Koroisau. The Penrith hooker has been in career-best form and looms as a threat to the halfback winning the medal.
Nathan Cleary will deservedly win the Dally M Medal. He was criticised at the end of last year about his ability to take it to the next level, but this year he has been the most dominant half in the competition and has led Penrith to a preliminary final. He has been the stand out in 2020.
Nathan Cleary was a couple of points off the lead when voting went behind closed doors and then led the Panthers to a superb winning streak, so I’ll tip the NSW halfback to take out his first Dally M.
Cody Walker. Granted, he's coming from a long way back with just three Dally M points at the halfway point of the season. But with seven tries, 12 assists, 12 line breaks and 45 tackle busts in the 10 games since then, Walker has produced one of the best individual form lines in recent memory. Should be a handful of three Dally M vote games in amongst all that.
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Clint Gutherson. When the Eels play well Gutherson is usually one of their best players and he led them to third place this year with wholehearted performances on a weekly basis.
Nathan Cleary was just two points off the Dally M Medal lead when the points system went behind closes doors. In the 10 rounds played since he put on a clinic at halfback in the Panthers unbeaten run and should have polled enough three-pointers to get him home.
Match: Storm v Raiders
Finals Week 3 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Winning the Dally M requires not just having a good year but specifically being among your team's best three players when the team wins. The Eels would have few wins without Clint Gutherson being amongst the best few players on the field so he’s my tip.
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Nathan Cleary should win in a canter given he won’t be docked any points for his suspension earlier this year. His teammates have been fantastic but they won’t have pinched enough votes from the Panthers halfback to deny him.
Jack Wighton. It seems like every week he leaves a larger footprint on the Raiders game plan, points generation, and success. The fact the Raiders won eight of their last 10 games of the regular season means Wighton has been weaving his magic.
Nathan Cleary was the standout player in the competition’s standout team and he’ll walk away with the game’s most prestigious award. When a team wins 16 on the trot it stands to reason that their players will dominate Dally M voting so expect Cleary and Jarome Luai and Api Koroisau to also snare plenty of votes.
Match: Panthers v Rabbitohs
Finals Week 3 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Nathan Cleary will win the 2020 Dally M Medal. I think he would’ve won it, even if he was deducted six points for a suspension over an off-field incident. Cleary has been the most consistent player in the NRL this year and has been one of Penrith’s best in their record run of 16 straight wins.
After 10 rounds, Harry Grant at the top of the list with 13 points was quite the novelty and Cam Smith maintaining a steady pace on 12. However, lurking just behind was a halfback and who has since spurred his team to a 15-game winning streak that secured the minor premiership. This is Nathan Cleary’s year.
The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.