Roosters star Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was left awkwardly standing next to the podium after his side’s grand final win over the Raiders after being told he had won Clive Churchill Medal.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the prop lined up near the presentation stage after being informed by an unknown official that he was going to receive the man-of-the-match award.
However, Canberra’s Jack Wighton was announced as the recipient moments later, with Waerea-Hargreaves reportedly prematurely informed before judge Darren Lockyer’s votes had been tallied.
Waerea-Hargreaves was leading the count when he was told he’d won, but Lockyer’s votes pushed Wighton ahead.
It would’ve marked the first time a New Zealander had won the award, with Sam Burgess the only non-Australian to do so in 2014.
Wighton became the fourth player to claim the Clive Churchill Medal on a losing team, joining Bradley Clyde (1991), St George forward Brad Mackay (1993) and Daly Cherry-Evans (2013).
The Raiders lock expressed his disappointment about the team’s narrow loss during his speech.
“It was a very numb feeling to achieve something so big, it was probably the worst moment of my life, losing a grand final,” Wighton said.
“At the same time I am extremely proud of the boys, I love every single one of them and our actions next year will tell us whether we’re going to back it up. I’m very proud of the boys, it’s just a very weird feeling at the minute.”
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart declared: “The best player on the field got the award tonight.”
“Whether those people out there who booed agree with it or not, Jack didn’t pick it.
“Three legends of our game pick the award and I think they know a little bit more than the wombats sitting behind the goal post.”