Sports

Tom Trbojevic of Manly Sea Eagles beats Penrith Panthers’ Nathan Cleary for top honour


Manly megastar Tom Trbojevic has capped his scintillating 2021 campaign by taking out his maiden Dally M Medal.

After entering the awards night in Brisbane as the red-hot favourite following arguably the greatest individual season in history, Trbojevic hauled in 35 votes, the second-highest tally of all time, as he edged Penrith‘s Nathan Cleary (30) and South Sydney‘s Cody Walker (29).

In clinching the game’s top individual honour, Trbojevic became just the third Manly player in history to win the award, joining Cliff Lyons (1990, 1994) and Matt Orford (2008).

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“I’ll start off by saying what an honour it is to win this award,” Trbojevic said on Fox League’s coverage.

“I was just reading through the past winners just then and to be recognised amongst that list is pretty special. I don’t think it will ever sink in.”

Rugby league great and Dally M awards master of ceremonies Braith Anasta labelled Trbojevic’s campaign “as destructive a season as we’ve seen”.

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Former Sharks captain Paul Gallen is among the Nine experts who consider the 24-year-old’s 2021 campaign the greatest by an individual in history, following a regular season stamped with 25 tries and 27 try assists.

Astoundingly, Trbojevic carved out those incredible numbers en route to his Dally M Medal victory despite playing just 15 regular-season games, with Cleary making 16 appearances and Walker 22.

A hamstring injury sidelined Trbojevic for the opening five rounds of the season – and Manly struggled terribly without him – before he missed several other games due to State of Origin and a facial injury that wiped him from Round 23.

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Despite his setbacks, Trbojevic’s 2021 campaign has been compared by a host of rugby league legends to Jarryd Hayne‘s season of 2009 and Ben Barba‘s of 2012, both of which were spectacular.

Rugby league icon Peter Sterling labelled Trbojevic “a freak of nature” on this week’s episode of Wide World of Sports’ Sterlo’s Wrap.

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