The year is not yet a month old but already four players have staked their claim for The Frownlow Medal.
Jarryd Hayne, Jack De Belin, Manase Fainu and Maika Sivo will all use carry over credits from 2019 nominations in an attempt to win the most prestigious award in Australian sport.
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, while NRL player Ben Barba is the most recent recipient.
Hayne and De Belin are the clear favourites at this early stage. Both Rugby League stars have been charged with sexually assaulting women and would have challenged 2019 winner Barba, but their court cases were still taking place at the time the award was announced.
Fainu is another strong contender whose case is before the courts. The young hooker was charged with stabbing a man outside a church dance and his guilt or innocence could determine the winner of this year’s medal.
Sivo, meanwhile, earned the latest nomination in the history of the award, being arrested in his native Fiji for allegedly harassing a woman at a hotel just moments before Barba was crowned. The flying winger was allowed to return to Australia to continue pre-season training with the Parramatta Eels, but last year’s leading try scorer must also await the decision of the courts to learn his fate in the NRL and The Frownlow Medal.
Frownlow fans are desperate to find out who will take home the medal in 2020, and whether this year will produce as many off-field highlights as last year.