The nomination is just reward for the hardworking prop, who has been charged with numerous driving related offences during his first-grade career.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. Kiwi international and Sydney Roosters player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while Corey Norman from the Parramatta Eels won in 2016.
Papalii’s first driving incident was more strange than outrageous.
The Queensland Origin representative apparently threw a one litre bottle of moisturising cream at another driver. However, Papalii didn’t miss a single NRL game after the altercation, because he did some counselling. Furthermore, the club paid for the damage to the other car. Papalii didn’t pay, the Raiders did.
The Australian representative also failed to pay a parking fine in 2014, then lost his licence, then got caught driving without a licence.
All actions worthy of a Frownlow nomination.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said Papalii had been stood down from the Club 82 leadership group as a result of the incident, but told media outlets that the front rower is just “…a kid with a big heart…” and that the incident “…hasn’t disrupted anything…” as the team prepares for the 2017 NRL season.
First published in January 2017.