Dally M Special: Who will claim league's top honour?

Rugby league's annual Dally M award ceremony will be held on the night of Tuesday 7th September. NRL.com will provide live coverage of the event, plus a special red carpet video package on Wednesday morning.

In what may be a surprise for the Dally M medal this year, Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah look like the only players still in contention who were placed in the top 10 before voting went behind closed doors after Round 16.

According to NRL.com’s best and fairest predictions, Gallen and Farah have pulled away from the rest of the pack, with strong games in the back half of the season pitting them against each other for league’s ultimate prize.

For Channel 9 commentator Andrew Voss, the field comes down to Paul Gallen, Robbie Farah or Darius Boyd, who led the field with 17 points before voting went silent.

“I’ve narrowed Player of the Year down to three: Darius Boyd, Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah,” Voss said. “(Although) Boyd hasn’t been as effective over the Dragons last seven games...

“Farah on the other hand has been a starring member of a side that has won seven of its last nine matches, while Gallen gets huge marks for consistency in a battling side.”

A dark horse could be Todd Carney, however, with the born-again five-eighth stamping his authority in a Roosters side that had an amazing five-game winning streak.

Other contenders include Jamie Soward and Josh Dugan, both of whom would have featured heavily in voting, with Panthers flyer Michael Gordon likely to have also polled well since his move to fullback.

But a clear leader is hard to determine, with many of the top 10 contenders having suffered injury or suspension since Round 16. Lachlan Coote was just behind Boyd on 15 points, but has missed the past four games with a groin injury. Issac Luke was third on 14, but lost three points through suspension, and has also missed games through injury.

The remainder of the top 10 stood at Sam Thaiday, Darren Lockyer, Paul Gallen, Cooper Cronk, Greg Bird, Robbie Farah and Mitchell Pearce. Bird and Lockyer have been injured in the latter stages of the season, with Thaiday possibly falling victim to the Broncos’ poor form in the past month, and Cronk unusually quiet for the Storm recently.

Other awards include Coach and Rookie of the Year. While most agree Brian Smith is a clear leader for the coach medal, the rookie could be a closer finish.

“My vote goes to Brian Smith (for coach) for taking a team that claimed the wooden spoon last year with just five victories; they now are not only in the finals but one of the teams to watch,” Voss said.

“For rookie, Brisbane’s Matt Gillett is my choice ahead of the Tigers’ Andrew Fifita. Gillett made an impact right from his debut in Round 1.”

But for Player of the Year, we’ll have to wait.

“Maybe we’ll have to go to golden point or seek the opinion of the independents in the federal election, but I reckon Farah might just get it,” Voss said.

Big League’s Dally M team of the year

Fullback: Darius Boyd (DRAGONS); Wing: Akuila Uate (KNIGHTS); Centre: Shaun Kenny-Dowall (ROOSTERS); Five-eighth: Todd Carney (ROOSTERS); Halfback: Scott Prince (TITANS); Second Row: Gareth Ellis (TIGERS); Hooker: Robbie Farah (TIGERS); Prop: David Shillington (RAIDERS); Lock: Paul Gallen (SHARKS); Captain: Robbie Farah (WESTS TIGERS); Coach: Brian Smith (ROOSTERS); Rookie: Matt Gillett (BRONCOS).