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Our rolling 2024 NRL Dally M contenders power rankings


The Dally M Medal is always a source of conversation through the Rugby League season. It’s a means for pin-pointing which players are putting together the best individual seasons of anyone in the competition.

This year the 44th Dally M Medal will be handed out — the ‘Player of the Year’ award has a slightly more complex background to, say, the Brownlow. Having also been known as the Rothmans Medal in the past, the individual accolade dates back to 1979. St George’s Steve Morris won the first and since then, many of the game’s greats and future immortals have had the award draped around their necks.

Last year, Newcastle Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga surprisingly come from behind to win his first, and the club’s fifth Dally M, beating out favourite Shaun Johnson by a couple votes.

Both are highly-ranked contenders to win it 2024, with plenty of other superstars gunning for the prize including three-time premiership winner Nathan Cleary.

And while we may well see someone come from the clouds, like Johnson in 2023 nearly pinched it, here are all the leading Dally M Medal contenders for 2024.

Our 2024 Dally M Medal power rankings

While we will use the Dally M leaderboard as a guide for our decisions, we will do our best to ensure our judgements aren’t solely based on what the leaderboard states. As such, when the leaderboard goes behind closed doors after round 12 we won’t be flying blind.

The bookies favourite

Dylan Edwards

Nathan Cleary’s injury woes to begin 2024 have been a blessing in disguise for Dylan Edwards. For most of the season’s opening stanza, Penrith became his team. Where previously his teammates would look for Cleary in attacking field position, increasingly Penrith’s stellar side is getting the ball in their fullback’s hands.

Off the back of that, Edwards has taken his game to another level. On top of his industrious work rate, the fullback has been directly involved in 10 tries over the opening eight games of the season and has broken 50 tackles, second only to teammate Brian To’o. In years gone by, Penrith’s well-rounded squad has undermined Cleary’s Dally M credentials. Something about 2024 feels different. It may be Edwards’ time in the limelight.

Nicho Hynes

Winner of the 2022 medal during his first season as Shark’s halfback, Nicho Hynes has been the mastermind to Cronulla’s strong start to 2024. Questions have been raised about the quality of the Shark’s opponents to begin the campaign yet such considerations matter little to Dally M voting.

Players are judged game-by-game, regardless of the quality of opponent. Hynes has played a slightly altered role this season, taking a more controlled approach to his game. In recent weeks, he’s brought back the running game to devastating effect, positioning himself once again as a Dally M frontrunner.

NRL, nicho hynes, sharks, dally m contenders
Nicho Hynes won the 2022 Dally M medal during his first season at Cronulla

Reece Walsh

Has a name ever matched a player’s energy as well as Reece Lightning matches Reece Walsh? Sweeping around the back of this brilliant Broncos outfit, Walsh is exactly that: lightning. There one minute, gone in a flash, bursting through the line and either scoring himself or setting his teammates up.

Recent history suggests great players in great teams fail to accrue an adequate number of points to win the Dally M medal come the end of the season. Yet, Reece Walsh feels like an exception, not the rule. Even when Payne Haas and Patrick Carrigan dominate opposing forwards and Adam Reynolds controls the tempo of a match, Walsh dictates how many points Brisbane score.

Over the opening two months of the 2024 season, Walsh has picked up where he left off. At the moment, only injuries can slow Brisbane’s electrifying fullback down.

In the hunt

Nathan Cleary

Injuries have robbed the NRL of Nathan Cleary in the early rounds of the season. Yet, he remains the clear frontrunner as the game’s best player it’s only a matter of time before he returns to fitness and reminds the rugby league world why he’s the game’s top dog.

Cleary, NRL, NRL Fantasy
Nathan Cleary is undoubtedly one of the greatest rugby league players at the moment

Tom Trbojevic

He’ll likely never return to form like in 2021, when he put in an extraordinary individual season rivalling Jarryd Hayne in 2009 and Ben Barba in 2012, 2024 has seen Tom Trbojevic return to form and health. Manly’s fortunes have been mixed to begin 2024. They’ve had some great wins and some embarrassing losses.

At the heart of it all has been Tom Trbojevic, who ranks near the top of NRL fullbacks for all key statistics; tries, try assists and run metres. Critics will hold him to the lofty standards he set for himself three seasons ago. But, if viewed through the same lens all fullbacks are judged in 2024 there can be no doubt Tom Trbojevic will be in the hunt for the Dally M come season’s end.

Daly Cherry-Evans

Another Manly man, Daly Cherry-Evans has had a stellar opening to the season, controlling the tempo of most of the Sea Eagles’ games with his boot and threatening with his running game. He sits near the top of the Dally M leaderboard after eight rounds, much like his fullback does.

Origin and the presence of Tom Trbojevic at the Sea Eagles mean DCE’s Dally M point scoring opportunities will diminish as the season progresses. However given the new scoring system, Cherry-Evans’ form and the fact DCE and Trbojevic are each other’s main threats, there can be no doubt Manly’s halfback is right in the hunt at this stage.

Zac Lomax

Not the Dragons star we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in the Dally M hunt in recent years. We wouldn’t rule out Ben Hunt’s name being up there come the end of the season, but at the moment Zac Lomax has not only been St George’s shining light this season but arguably the NRL’s form outside back as well.

Playing in his unfavoured wing role for much of the season, Lomax’s influence on the game rivals only Brian To’o. Whether his world-beating form can continue for the rest of the season is unclear. At the moment though there can be no doubting Lomax’s legitimate claim as a Dally M contender.

Dark horses

Viliame Kikau

There is an argument that the Viliame Kikau who has begun the 2024 season is the best version of Viliame Kikau. Not only has he been at his destructive best on Canterbury’s left edge, causing nightmares for defenders with his blend of agility, strength and ball playing, but he’s committed to executing the small things well; kick pressure and defensive covering among those.

Every time Kikau gets the ball he is a threat, regardless of what part of the field he’s in. Should the Bulldogs continue their upward trajectory this season, there’s a strong case for Kikau being in and around the Dally M medal conversation come the end of the season.

Patrick Carrigan

As has been the case over the last few seasons, Patrick Carrigan has been enormous to begin 2024. One of the game’s leading middle forwards, this year Carrigan is running for more metres than he has in previous seasons while making more of his tackles than ever before and maintaining his high level of leadership.

What’s made Carrigan’s opening few months of the 2024 season all the more impressive has been the fact he’s operated largely without Payne Haas, Adam Reynolds and Reece Walsh, all of whom have been out for extended periods. Yet, in their wake, Carrigan’s barnstorming runs through the middle and impeccable work rate hasn’t slowed. Instead, they’ve picked up. The lack of Walsh, Haas and Reynolds also lessens Carrigan’s Brisbane competitors for Dally M points each week.

Harry Grant

Melbourne’s spine is the best in the competition, there can be no doubt about that. Harry Grant and Cameron Munster are the best two footballers in their respective positions, Jahrome Hughes is a top five halfback and Ryan Papenhuyzen is one of the game’s best fullbacks when fit and firing.

Yet, Grant is the crown jewel of Craig Bellamy’s side. Munster’s calf injury means he’s a reinvented commodity for 2024 and Ryan Papenhuyzen is set to miss eight weeks with an ankle injury. All this is to say, Grant’s best chance for a Dally M medal may come in 2024 when health evades the talented men around him.

What happened to…

Kalyn Ponga

Reigning Dally M medal winner Kalyn Ponga suffered a foot injury in round seven, 2024 that’s ruled him out for a majority of the season. For this reason, Ponga’s chances of becoming the first man to win consecutive Dally M medals since Jonathan Thurston are non-existent.

Mitch Moses

A foot injury has derailed Mitch Moses and Parramatta’s 2024 season. Having only played three games this season, any slim hope of Mitch Moses winning a Dally M has faded as the season has progressed. He could return from injury and blow the competition away, much in the same way Ponga did in 2023, but given how hapless Parramatta has appeared in his absence, one must wonder whether Moses alone is enough to revive their season.

Shaun Johnson

It’s possible Shaun Johnson is both a symptom and cause of the Warriors’ poor form to begin the 2024 season. After nine rounds, the Warriors, viewed by many as a Premiership threat this season, sit 14th, having won three, drawn once and lost five of their games. Unless their fortunes turn around fast, it’s hard to envision Johnson winning the Dally M, an award many feel he was robbed of in 2023.

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