Cronk and Taumalolo's special bond
North Queensland lock Jason Taumalolo and Storm halfback Cooper Cronk have never had much to do with each other but after Wednesday night they will forever be mentioned in the same breath.
Taumalolo and Cronk were named duel Dally M Medallists for the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership season after their amazing individual seasons.
Tied at 26 points after their respective Round 25 performances, neither Cronk nor Taumalolo polled points in the final round of the regular season and were duly awarded joint winners.
For Cronk, it was his second Dally M win after collecting the NRL's most prized individual possession in 2013.
Taumalolo bucked many trends along the way by becoming the first forward (that isn't a hooker) to win the Dally M Medal since Gavin Miller in the 1988 and 1989 seasons.
The Cowboys enforcer was also the first New Zealander to win the Dally M Medal since Gary Freeman did a whopping 24 seasons ago – the only two Kiwis to achieve the feat.
"We had a pretty special moment when it come to the last round, we were asking each other, did you play well, what did you do?" Cronk said.
"We couldn't work out whether we gained points or not so we just had a little shake of the hands and said well I hope we get to share it with you because that was obviously the best result for both of us.
"It's obviously a great moment. These awards aren't given out lightly. You must have a pretty special consistent season. (Taumalolo) has been super consistent.
"The upside is there's no ceiling on what Jason can achieve. I'm not surprised that he's standing here right next to me."
Cronk recalled only meeting Taumalolo once previously, as they stood shoulder to shoulder for photos on stage at Sydney's Star Casino.
"I met him at a shopping centre a few years ago when he was obviously a kid. He was with his family and I was with mine but the only connection we have shared since has been him running over the top of me for the past two years," Cronk laughed.
"We respect each other and right here we have shared a pretty special bond that not too many people will ever share. We'll remember this moment for a long time."
Taumalolo was blown away by his achievements and credited his teammates for pushing him throughout the year.
Amazingly Taumalolo at 23 years old is in his seventh season of NRL football and scoffed at rumours of a potential NFL career – ala Jarryd Hayne – down the line.
"It's something special. I'm so proud of the year I've had," Taumalolo said.
"My plan is to retire playing rugby league and that hasn't changed over the last little while.
"I want to be playing in the NRL for as long as I can and hopefully being recognised alongside Coops (Cronk), JT (Johnathan Thurston) and (Cameron) Smithy as one of the greats."