NRL news: Dally M Medal Daily Telegraph leak, Jack Wighton, Nathan Cleary, Clint Gutherson

A “production error” was behind the unfortunate leak of the Dally M Medal winner on Tuesday night.

The Daily Telegraph published a story online written by Phil Rothfield at the top of its website with the headline “Dally M drama: System needs an urgent overhaul” around 6.30pm.

The final tally of voting for the NRL’s highest individual honour, which included winner Jack Wighton on 26 votes, was also published before being quickly removed.

“Owing to a production error that was out of my control, The Daily Telegraph website accidentally published the winner of the Dally M award before the official announcement tonight,” Rothfield tweeted on Monday night. “We apologise sincerely for the mistake.”

Daily Telegraph editor Ben English also addressed the incident in a radio interview on Tuesday morning.

“This was a scoop I would be happy not to be talking to you about,” English told 2GB’s Ben Fordham.

“We stuffed up, all we can say is that we are sorry.”

The NRL releases the results early to newspapers so they can meet their publishing deadlines.

“(Breaking embargo) doesn’t help us. We have strong partnerships with the NRL, Fox and our readers and we do not want to damage that trust,” English added.

“If we didn’t have the list we would not be in a position to get all those stories into our paper. We need to write those stories in advance and the same goes for our digital operation.”

“All we can do is a redoubling of all the check and balances we have in place. We thought we had all those in place,” English concluded.

Wighton, who won a tight three-man race ahead of Clint Gutherson and Nathan Cleary, said the leak had no impact on his night.

“It was halfway through they came and took our phones and no-one really knew what was going on,” he told the Today Show on Tuesday morning.

“After, they told us that there was a leak. But we didn’t know too much while we were sitting in the room.”

The NRL said it would follow up the incident.

“I know mistakes do happen but we’ll certainly do an investigation to see how this happened,” ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys said.

“We’ll do an investigation and make sure this never, ever, ever happens again.”

The Daily Telegraph is owned by News Corp Australia, publisher of

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Melbourne Storm’s Cameron Munster eyes Clive Churchill Medal to atone for 2018 double sin-binning

“It is what it is. There are going to be a lot of keyboard warriors and a lot of people trying to bring up that moment but it doesn’t faze me too much,” Munster said.

“It wasn’t a great moment for myself or my family but I have moved on, everyone makes mistakes. The only way I can make amends for what happened in 2018 is go out and try to play the best footy I can, prove to everyone that I can play on the big stage.”

Cameron Munster gets his marching orders in 2018 during his nightmare decider against the Roosters.Credit:Getty

Munster has never been short of confidence and believes his ability stacks up against anyone in the game. That’s why he has set his sights on not just playing a leading role for the Storm but taking home some added silverware in the process.

“The next thing I’d really like to do is play well this Sunday and show everyone I can play well on the big stage again. I wouldn’t mind having the ‘Clivey’ on my shoulders,” Munster said.

“It’s a great moment for them (players who win it) and they can relive that for the next 30 years. It would be nice to have it but it would great to just win the grand final, not for me but for everyone in Melbourne and for Cameron Smith if he decides to hang the boots up. What a great way to send out a champion.”

Munster had a subdued night against the Raiders as halves partner Jahrome Hughes took a leading hand. Munster has been carrying a knee injury but is unlikely to be taking a backseat to anyone once the grand final begins, saying he feels the Storm are more dangerous when he’s taking on the defensive line.

“Just get in the game a lot earlier, run the ball more. Be aggressive with the ball… when I do run the ball hard and aggressive I’m very hard to handle,” Munster said.

“When I do run the ball, things happen for me. It’s just getting my hands on the ball and just controlling the game.”

Munster will go head-to-head with Panthers breakout star Jarome Luai, who has been in superb touch all season and created a host of chances with his running game against South Sydney in the preliminary final.


Luai has a fan in Munster, who said he had been deeply impressed with what he was bringing to the table and felt he would be unlucky not to make the final NSW cut when Brad Fittler picks his side.

“He’s got a lot of confidence, a lot of skill. I like the way he plays, he plays with a lot of flair and he’s not too scared to get in with the rough stuff.

“He has come leaps and bounds from previous years, there was obviously a question mark on who would play six for them and he has taken it with both hands.

“The way he is playing I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets five-eighth of the year. Cody Walker is probably the front runner and rightly so, he’s been outstanding, but if I had to pick the next best five-eighth it would be Jarome.”

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Dally M Medal 2020: Dally M winner Jack Wighton, full votes, Player of the Year, Team of the Year, Nathan Cleary, Clint Gutherson

Canberra star Jack Wighton has won the 2020 Dally M Medal, pipping Clint Gutherson and Nathan Cleary in a shock result and a thrilling vote count.

Wighton polled 26 votes, one ahead of Gutherson and two ahead of Cleary.

Wighton is the first Raiders player to win it since Laurie Daley in 1995.

It caps a stunning two years for the 27-year-old who was moved from fullback to five-eighth at the start of 2019, and then won the Clive Churchill Medal in last year’s grand final.

Grand Final

Wighton wins the Dally M


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NRL 2020: Dally M Medal runner-up Clint Gutherson, Parramatta Eels, Bevan French transfer news

Clint Gutherson was a single vote away from being named the 2020 Dally M Medallist.

Yet some shock transfer reports mean the Fullback of the Year may face a fight to even play in his favourite spot next season.

The Daily Telegraph reported the Eels are in “secret talks” to bring former No.1 Bevan French back to the club — with a view to replacing Gutherson at the back.

But while the Eels skipper says he’d be happy to play in the centres for NSW, there’s no doubting where his preferences lie.

Grand Final

Dally M Team of the Year


Jack Wighton wins 2020 NRL Dally M medal

Canberra five-eighth Jack Wighton has claimed the 2020 Dally M Medal in a dramatic count during a final-round NRL shootout with Clint Gutherson and Nathan Cleary.

The NSW star is the first Raiders player since Laurie Daley in 1995 to clinch the medal for best player of the season, and just the third from the club in the award’s 42-year history.

The 27-year-old finished on 26 points ahead of Parramatta fullback Gutherson (25) and Penrith favourite Nathan Cleary on 24.

It was a dramatic finish with none of the top three polling votes in the final round of the season.

Wighton was rested for Canberra’s 38-28 win over Cronulla, while Gutherson and Cleary did not poll votes despite playing crucial roles in their team’s round 20 wins.

Gutherson set up two tries in the Eels’ 28-24 win over the Wests Tigers, while Cleary’s halves partner Jarome Luai earned points in Penrith’s 42-0 win over Canterbury.

Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith also came close to winning the gong, finishing fourth on 22 points despite missing five games during the season.

He was named at hooker in the team of the year with Storm teammate Josh Addo-Carr was selected on one of the wings.

Grand finalists Penrith took home a slew of awards after their remarkable run to the season decider against the Storm.

Mastermind of 17-straight wins, Ivan Cleary was named coach of the year, while halfback Nathan Cleary, prop James Fisher-Harris, second-rower Viliame Kikau, lock Isaah Yeo and centre Stephen Crichton were all picked in the team of the year.

Warriors star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was named captain of the year, while his team was also given the Provan Summons Medal for spirit of the year.

Brisbane star Ali Brigginshaw earned her first Dally M as female player of the year heading into Sunday’s grand final against the Sydney Roosters, while Wests Tigers hooker Harry Grant was named rookie of the year.

“Tonight we honoured our most exceptional players in an extraordinary season,” NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said.

“Despite unprecedented challenges our players took our game to a new level in 2020.

“Tonight we celebrated our very best, those who provided so much excitement and hope during a challenging time in our community.

“Congratulations to Jack on creating history, winning the Dally M Medal in such a tough and uncompromising season. His feats will forever be etched into rugby league folklore.”


NRL winner: Jack Wighton (Canberra)

NRLW winner: Ali Brigginshaw (Brisbane)

Coach of the year: Ivan Cleary (Penrith)

Rookie of the year: Harry Grant (Wests Tigers)

Captain of the year: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors)

Team of the year: Clint Gutherson, David Nofoaluma, Josh Addo-Carr, Stephen Crichton, Kotoni Staggs, Jack Wighton, Nathan Cleary, Cameron Smith, Josh Papalii, James Fisher-Harris, Viliame Kikau, Tohu Harris, Isaah Yeo.

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Canberra Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton wins NRL’s Dally M Medal

Canberra five-eighth Jack Wighton has won the NRL’s Dally M Medal, becoming the first Raider to claim the honour in 25 years.

Wighton polled 26 votes across the 20 rounds of the minor premiership to finish ahead of Parramatta’s Clint Gutherson (25 votes) and Penrith’s Nathan Cleary (24).

Laurie Daley was the last Raiders player to win the award back in 1995.

Among the other awards announced as part of the virtual ceremony was the NRLW’s Dally M Medal, which went to Brisbane’s Ali Brigginshaw.

Penrith’s Ivan Cleary was named Coach of the Year and Wests Tigers’ Harry Grant was crowned Rookie of the Year.

More to come.

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Jack Wighton pips Nathan Cleary to Dally M Medal as NRL, Penrith Panthers fume over Daily Telegraph blunder

“Good luck to the winner, he’s a deserving winner, but to be sitting there waiting for something that has already been announced is disappointing. It wouldn’t worry Nathan. He would have been hoping he won it, but he didn’t and now we just get on with it and prepare for the grand final. Good luck to the winner. Nathan is only 22, he will have plenty of time in his career to win it.”

A screenshot from The Daily Telegraph’s website which spread over social media before Monday night’s Dally M awards.

Sources within the NRL say the governing body was not only ropeable with the fact the story was released early, but also that it was critical of the awards night and its voting system given that News Corp-owned Fox Sports runs the event. NRL CEO Andrew Abdo declined to comment on Monday night.

The NRL requested both Nathan and Ivan Cleary attend the broadcast event, providing an exemption from the game’s strict biosecurity rules for one night.

The Panthers have no issue with Cleary missing out on the main award, but the inconvenience for their star halfback during such an important week has been noted.

“We want to wish Jack the best, he deserves to win it,” Panthers chairman Dave O’Neill said. “It’s disappointing from our club that Nathan, in the busiest week of his career, had to travel from Penrith to Artarmon and sit there at the Dally M knowing that he’s not going to win it.

“From a club’s perspective we’re disappointed that Nathan had to find out that way but congrats to Jack Wighton. We now have bigger fish to fry and that’s to go on and win a premiership on Sunday.”

In 2013 another News Corp-owned newspaper, The Australian, broke an embargo by releasing the Gold Logie winner before it was announced on Nine, forcing the awards to prohibit embargoed results to media in future years.

Jack Wighton is the third Canberra player to take home the Dally M.

Jack Wighton is the third Canberra player to take home the Dally M. Credit:Getty Images

Wighton was at the centre of another awards controversy last year, winning the Clive Churchill Medal for the best player in the grand final in a losing side despite Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves being privately told he would be the recipient.

There was no betting on this year’s Dally M awards due to the scandal last year caused by suspicious bets on the Coach of the Year award.

On this year’s Dally M leaderboard, Cleary failed to register a single point in the final-round blowout win over Canterbury, finishing on 24 points, two behind Wighton on 26 points with Gutherson splitting them on 25.

Wighton was one of nine Raiders rested from the final round in a move that helped recharge his batteries but could have potentially robbed him of becoming the third Canberra player to win the Dally M, and first since Laurie Daley in 1995.

Another big talking point from the event, which was held virtually, will be whether Cleary was unlucky – and if the voting system needs to be overhauled.

Cleary’s teammate Jarome Luai finished the regular season in brilliant form and would have taken votes away from Cleary. He did well to sneak up the leaderboard to 17 points.


Amazingly, Raiders battering ram Papalii, considered the best front-rower in the game – and who was added to the Dally M team of the year alongside Penrith prop James Fisher-Harris – finished well down the pecking order.

Cleary continually played down his chances because of the amount of teammates who stood up every week and pinched votes off each other.

In brighter news for Penrith, Cleary was one of five Panthers players included in the Team of the Year alongside Fisher-Harris, Isaah Yeo, Viliame Kikau and Stephen Crichton.

Crichton was pipped for Rookie of the Year honours by on-loan Wests Tigers hooker Harry Grant.

And Ivan Cleary held off some stiff competition from Sunday’s Storm counterpart Craig Bellamy – and even the New Zealand Warriors’ caretaker coach Todd Payten, who kept getting homesick players to rally each week – to win his second Coach of the Year award.

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Whateley and Cornes assess what was right and wrong about the Brownlow Medal

Gerard Whateley and Kane Cornes have gone through Sunday night’s Brownlow Medal and what they felt was right and wrong about the count.

Both agreed that Lachie Neale was the right choice as winner and also agreed that Channel 7 did the best they could with the broadcast given the circumstances.

Read their thoughts from SEN’s Whateley below:

What they got right

Whateley: “I think Channel 7 and the AFL in difficult circumstances produced an excellent broadcast. I don’t think you could do any better given the circumstances that we had and from where it might have been with the Zoom count, I thought they did a superb job.”

Whateley: “Matt Rowell got his hat-trick of threes. I was so reassured by that. That’s how we felt in real time, that he had nine Brownlow votes.”

Whateley: “A big shout out to umpires Ryan, Mollison and Gianfagna who in Round 7 gave three votes to Harris Andrews, so well done, they found the All-Australian defender as best on ground once.”

What they got wrong

Cornes: “I agree with you, I thought Channel 7 did an excellent job, but someone had to present Lachie Neale with his Brownlow. Chris Fagan or someone, a teammate, he had to present his own Brownlow Medal. Maybe it was because of social distancing, but I doubt it because I saw pictures of Neale’s wife was arm in arm with Fagan. They had to get the coach to present Neale with his Brownlow, it was an awkward moment.”

Whateley: “Simon Black was in the room, a previous Lions Brownlow Medallist, I thought he would present it to Neale and then it didn’t happen.”

Whateley: “Nic Naitanui only getting five votes … he got 12 from the AFLCA by comparison and 16 in the Herald Sun. He got five. I’m not sure how you’re missing Nic Nat.”

Whateley: “I don’t really understand why the Brownlow was last night instead of Monday night.”

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Dally M Medal 2020: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck Dally M Captain of the Year, Warriors, Tamworth, NRL news

You can’t tell the story of the NRL’s most unprecedented and extraordinary of seasons without talking about the New Zealand Warriors.

It’s only fitting that Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has been named Dally M Captain of the Year, an award unlike any in past years — for what he did as a leader off the field was undeniably more important than his heroics on it.

When the world was gripped by the global outbreak of COVID-19, the NRL like every major sporting league on the planet was shutdown, mired in uncertainty.

Don’t miss a minute of Fox League’s exclusive Dally M Awards night coverage by tuning in live on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

Grand Final
In the toughest of seasons for them, the Warriors put on a real show.Source: Getty Images

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Kybybolite roars as former Tiger Lachie Neale wins Brownlow Medal with Lions

Growing up in the tiny farming town of Kybybolite, near South Australia’s border with Victoria, the young Lachie Neale was “always a little sports-mad boy”.

“He was very young when he pulled on his first pair of boots,” his mum Amanda Taylor said.

“He was certainly kicking the football or bouncing the basketball or bowling the cricket ball around the house and the garden.”

His dad Robbie Neale remembers his son “was never much help in the sheep yard”.

“He’s had a footy in his hand for quite a while.”

Lachie Neale (centre) in action against the Adelaide Crows in June.(AAP: Darren England)

Last night, Neale was honoured with the AFL’s top individual honour, the Brownlow Medal — much to the delight of the Kybybolite community.

The Brisbane Lions midfielder played junior football for the Kybybolite Tigers, winning a premiership in 2004, and about 100 locals watched last night’s count together at the clubrooms.

“I did say, at the end of the count, once Lachie was crowned the Brownlow Medallist, that everyone in the room would remember where they were on October 18 to celebrate that little bit of history,” club president Jamie Tidy said.

A sign next to a gate opening onto a football oval reads "Welcome to Kybybolite Memorial Sports Club, home of the Kyby Tigers"
The Kyby Tigers are hoping Neale’s success can expire them to a long-awaited premiership.(ABC South East SA: Isadora Bogle)

“Our club has had some rough times but that’s up there with some of the more special things that can happen at a little country footy club.

‘They’d all love to have him home’

Ms Taylor said her son was lucky to be in a job he loved, but had worked hard to get there.

“It’s his passion and he’s always wanted to play football in the AFL,” she said.

An older man and woman hugging a young man wearing a suit and tie on a deck
Lachie Neale with stepfather Brett Shepherd and mother Amanda Taylor at last year’s Brisbane Lions best and fairest awards.(Supplied)

She said she was closely watching the Brownlow count, but became less stressed towards the end.

“I was doing the maths around [round] 10 onwards trying to work out, so about round 14–15 I was quietly confident, as long as he polled in one more game.”

Ms Taylor has received messages of support from Kybybolite locals wishing Neale well over the past couple of weeks.

Lachie Neale smiles while holding up his Brownlow Medal
Lachie Neale holds up the coveted Brownlow Medal.(AAP: Darren England)

Mr Tidy said the club had been lucky with its juniors, with five junior colt premierships in a row when Neale was in the team, alongside former AFL footballers Jack Trengove and Alex Forster.

“We’ve got a very long and proud history of good coaches and good juniors,” he said.

He said he hoped Neale’s win would inspire the club to make a little bit more history.

“Unfortunately, it’s been 46 years since our last A-grade [premiership], which I believe is the longest premiership drought in South Australian country football,” he said.

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