Ben Hunt may be in the box seat for the Dally M award on Tuesday night - but don't tell him that.
The St. George Illawarra Dragons halfback has enjoyed a stellar season, despite missing the eight, with the odds firming on the former Bronco to snare the NRL's greatest individual accolade.
When voting went behind closed doors after Round 12, Hunt sat atop the pile on 19 points, while the likes of Isaah Yeo trailed on 17 points, Nicho Hynes on 16, James Tedesco on 14 and Dylan Edwards on 13 points after the midway point of the season.
While Hunt would have polled points in some of the Red V's defeats, it's a cross-town rival that caught the Queensland hooker's eye ahead of the announcement.
“I like Nicho Hynes – he had a cracking finish to the back end of the season. There were a few games where he would have got three points, so he’s the danger," Hunt told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I’d love to win it. It would mean the world. It’s a team sport, and you’d rather win a premiership, but at the end of the day you’re always striving to be your best, and just to be mentioned among the guys who have won it in the past, it’s something I’d cherish for the rest of my life.
“There have been so many good winners. The year Jarryd Hayne won it [in 2009] sticks in my mind. Even Tommy 'Turbo' (Trbojevic) winning it by a country mile last year. He missed plenty of games and nobody got close to him. The season he had is the best I’ve seen in my life.”
No player has won the Dally M from outside the top eight since Jarryd Hayne shared the medal with Johnathan Thurston in 2014, and it seems unlikely the eventual winner of the 2022 instalment will be contesting this year's Grand Final.
Mitchell Moses sat on 15 points after Round 12 however has missed some footy with injury in the backend of the season, while Yeo and Edwards polled highly, it's always hard to win it in a side stacked with superstars, constantly stealing points off one another.
Reportedly close to inking an extension with the Dragons, Hunt will don the No. 9 in the Prime Minister's XIII clash against Papua New Guinea, a last ditch effort for the Maroons' rake to impress Mal Meninga in the lead-up to the Rugby League World Cup.
While Damien Cook is the incumbent, Queensland's dynamic Hunt-Harry Grant combination tore up the ruck and set the pace at time during their series win, though the pair will have to fight off Cook, Reece Robson, Apisai Koroisau and Reed Mahoney if they want the dual role.