Jarryd Hayne and Jack de Belin could fight out The Frownlow Medal in 2019 after both being charged with alleged sexual assault.
The two high-profile Rugby League players are currently leading the race for the most prestigious award in Australian sport, ahead of part-time porn stars, nudists, drunks, thugs, drug addicts, bigots, gamblers, drink drivers and taxi slappers.
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. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 and code-swapper Karmichael Hunt was the most recent recipient.
Standing in the way of Hayne and de Belin winning the award are their lengthy court cases, and a long list of fellow footballers putting their hand up for the prize. The legal proceedings which will determine the players’ innocence or guilt may not be finished by the time The Frownlow Medal is announced later this year, which throws the competition wide open.
Every winner of The Frownlow Medal so far has played Rugby League, and NRL players dominate the nominations again this year.
Scott Bolton and former Cowboys teammate Ben Barba are in contention, while Zane Musgrove and Liam Coleman still have a chance, despite being kicked out of the NRL. Dylan Walker was nominated for allegedly assaulting his partner, but was not found guilty, ruling him out of the race.
NRL players got nude this year, appearing on the front page of newspapers, on social media and all over the internet, in a desperate bid to be noticed. Some played Slap the Taxi and an entire club, the Cronulla Sharks, got themselves banned from a local venue due to the behaviour of some of their players.
AFL player Jaidyn Stephenson poses the biggest threat to NRL dominance, as he has earned the longest suspension from the game, serving 10 games on the sideline after being found guilty of betting on AFL games. AFL colleague Majak Daw provided the most bizarre incident when his body was found beside the Yarra River.
Israel Folau could follow fellow code-hopper Karmichael Hunt and take out The Frownlow Medal, after refusing to remove a homophobic post from social media and losing his contract with Rugby Australia. A host of fellow footballers, including AFL player Gary Ablett Jr. earned Frownlow nominations for ‘liking’ his posts.
The A-League continued its poor showing in The Frownlow Medal, with only Ken Ilso nominated for testing positive to a banned substance.
As the winter codes near the business end of their respective seasons, the race is well and truly on for The Frownlow Medal.