The NRL have been left fuming after News Corp accidentally revealed Jack Wighton as the Dally M Medal winner on social media hours prior to the ceremony’s official announcement.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys is set to launch an investigation into the blunder, with the league likely to put an end to the media gaining access to the results for the future.
“I know mistakes do happen but we’ll certainly do an investigation to see how this happened,” V’landys said.
“We’ll do an investigation and make sure this never, ever, ever happens again.”
It is understood that none of the players were aware of the results before the official announcement, with Wighton taking out the award ahead of Eels fullback Clint Gutherson and award favourite Nathan Cleary.
“They took our phones away, we didn’t know why,” Wighton said.
“We were all in the same boat and found out at the same time when we were meant to find out. It worked out all right in the end.
“I thought I was gone that last round. I was happy to get where I was before that. To be named winner made me speechless.
“I’m absolutely shocked and blown away. I thought he [Cleary] would win it.”
Penrith chief executive Brian Fletcher said the matter was a big let down.
“It’s all a bit disappointing,” he said.
“Good luck to the winner, he’s a deserving winner, but to be sitting there waiting for something that has already been announced is disappointing. It wouldn’t worry Nathan.
“He would have been hoping he won it, but he didn’t and now we just get on with it and prepare for the grand final.
“Good luck to the winner. Nathan is only 22, he will have plenty of time in his career to win it.”
Penrith chairman Dave O’Neill added that the blunder may interrupt one of the biggest weeks of Cleary’s career.
“We want to wish Jack the best, he deserves to win it,” he said.
“It’s disappointing from our club that Nathan, in the busiest week of his career, had to travel from Penrith to Artarmon and sit there at the Dally M knowing that he’s not going to win it.
“From a club’s perspective we’re disappointed that Nathan had to find out that way but congrats to Jack Wighton. We now have bigger fish to fry and that’s to go on and win a premiership on Sunday.”
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has declined to speak on the matter.
Wighton won the award with 26 votes to his name, edging out Gutherson (25) and Cleary (24) for the honour.
Owing to a production error that was out of my control, The Daily Telegraph website accidentally published the winner of the Dally M award before the official announcement tonight. We apologise sincerely for the mistake. #DallyM
— BUZZ ROTHFIELD (@BuzzRothfield) October 19, 2020