The five players who are in line to win the Dally M Medal have been confirmed at Night 1 of the new-look awards ceremony.
While the awards have been traditionally done on one night, the NRL opted to shake things up this year owing to the COVID pandemic and lockdown, as well as the relocation of the competition to Brisbane.
Night 1 of the awards saw votes revealed to the end of Round 19 for five players, who are the contenders to take out the overall award next Monday night at the second instalment of the awards ceremony.
The five nominees are:
The five players in the nominees list were widely staggered after Round 12 before votes went behind closed doors, however, injuries, resting and State of Origin have allowed them all to come into contention.
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At the end of Round 12, Nathan Cleary had an enormous lead on 21 points, however, he only was able to play one game between Round 13 and 19, claiming man of the match honours to move to 24. He still holds the lead with six rounds remaining.
Tom Trbojevic has come up to second spot on the overall ladder with two man of the match efforts in Round 15 and 19, and a further two-vote score in Round 16, leaving him just a single point behind Cleary and now much be raging favourite to take the overall gong.
Cody Walker only had eight points at the end of Round 12, however, put together a phenomenal run to move to within striking distance during the seven-round block. Man of the match performances in Round 14, 15, 17 and 18 should have left him on 20 points, however, a suspension leaves him with a three-point penalty.
Daly Cherry-Evans has moved to 17 votes, equal with Walker. He had man of the match efforts in rounds 14 and 16, while he also scored a single vote in rounds 15 and 19, taking him from a former tally of nine up to 17.
James Tedesco only managed three games during this block, however, came away with a single man of the match performance to leave himself on 15 votes, a distant nine behind Cleary, but given his end to the season in a struggling Roosters' outfit, by no means completely out of the running.
Trbojevic, just a point behind and with a phenomenal finish to the season, will be the red-hot favourite to take the award out from here despite playing just 15 games this season, particularly given Cleary's struggles from injury.
Other players on the leaderboard at the end of Round 19 include Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Ben Hunt, however, it's safely assumed they won't be taking out the award, given the focus on naming five contenders this evening.
Leaderboard at the end of Roud 19
1. Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers) - 24 votes
2. Tom Trbojevic (Manly Sea Eagles) - 23 votes
3. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand Warriors) - 21 votes
4. Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons) - 18 votes
5. Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs) - 17 votes*
5. Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles) - 17 votes
5. James Fisher-Harris (Penrith Panthers) - 17 votes
5. Jahrome Hughes (Melbourne Storm) - 15 votes
9. Clint Gutherson (Parramatta Eels) - 16 votes
10. James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters) - 15 votes
Three votes deducted for suspension
The Dally M winner, as well as the team of the year, rookie of the year, captain of the year and coach of the year will be revealed next Monday night.