Brandon Smith to join Payne Haas.

Payne Haas and Brandon Smith are the only NRL players to achieve the rare honour of being selected in the Dally M Team of the Year and The Frownlow Medal Team of the Year in 2021.

Haas was judged to be one of the best props in the game, while Smith was voted the best hooker this year at the Dally M awards night. Both players were also nominated for The Frownlow Medal for separate incidents.

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 AFL player Elijah Taylor is the most recent recipient.

Smith, known among league fans as the Block of Cheese, was nominated after a leaked video showed him in possession of cocaine at a house party just days after losing the preliminary final to Penrith and being named the game’s best hooker.

Haas, meanwhile, earned his Frownlow nomination way back in January. He was arrested on charges of intimidation and verbal abuse, and reports allege that he was intoxicated at the time. The incident occurred near the NSW/Queensland border.

It was not his first run in with police. In 2019 he appeared in court over two drink-driving incidents, and in the same year he was suspended and fined by the Broncos for refusing to cooperate with the NRL integrity unit in relation to two off-field incidents.

Haas and Smith will reunite later this year at a second awards night, and the ceremony for The Frownlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame offers as much cocaine, drinking and anti-social behaviour as they can handle.

Image: Getty Images

Commiserate or celebrate: is there a difference?

Commiserating and celebrating seem to be the same thing for many NRL players, after three of the game’s biggest names were recently caught with cocaine. Reece Walsh, Brandon Smith and Cameron Munster have all been nominated for The Frownlow Medal after being caught with the white powder and charged by police.

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 AFL player Elijah Taylor is the most recent recipient.

Walsh used the white powder to celebrate, Munster to commiserate, and Smith to do both. Walsh was partying at Surfer’s Paradise just moments after being named RLPA Rookie of the Year when he was caught in possession of cocaine.

Munster, meanwhile, was commiserating the Melbourne Storm semi-final loss at a party and was filmed in possession of the illicit drug. The same leaked video incriminated his teammate Brandon Smith, who was managing the mixed emotions of missing out on the grand final and being named Dally M Hooker of the year.

They say a professional football career can be an emotional rollercoaster, but the best way to manage the highs and lows seems to be with cocaine.

If nothing else, at least it guarantees Walsh, Munster and Smith a chance to win The Fronwlow Medal in 2021. If they succeed or fail in their quest to take home the greatest prize in Australian sport, they clearly know how to process the result.

Image: NuNa