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

Bigger than the Dally M: The Frownlow Medal NRL team of 2021.

The greatest honour for any NRL player is not wining the Dally M medal, it’s being named in The Frownlow Medal team of the year. So prestigious is it that in 2021, three full NRL teams have been formed with players who have been nominated for Frownlow honours in this calendar year.

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.

The Frownlow Medal Team of 2021 includes superstars such as rapist Jarryd Hayne, as well as some of the games hottest prospects in Kotoni Staggs, Jai Arrow and Victor Radley. Prop Payne Haas and hooker Brandon Smith are the only players to make the Frownlow team and the Dally M team of the year in 2021.

The Frownlow Medal Team of 2021.

Fullback – Jarryd Hayne

Wing – David Nofoaluma

Centre – Kotoni Staggs

Centre – Stephen Crichton

Wing – Will Smith

Five-Eighth – Cameron Munster

Halfback – Lachlan Lewis

Lock – Jack de Belin

Second row – Corey Harawira-Naera

Second row – Jai Arrow

Prop – Payne Haas

Hooker – Brandon Smith

Prop – George Burgess

Interchange – Josh McGuire, Zane Musgrove, Blake Lawrie, Matt Dufty

TEAM 1 will play in a Tri-Series against teams 2 and 3, also made up of NRL Frownlow nominees from 2021.

TEAM 2

Fullback – Reece Walsh

Wing – Gerard Beale

Centre – Zac Lomax

Centre – Curtis Scott

Wing – Aaron Schoup

Five-Eighth – Corey Norman

Halfback – Brandon Wakeham

Lock – Victor Radley

Second row – Jamil Hopoate

Second row – Adam Elliott

Prop – Paul Vaughan

Hooker – Api Koroisau

Prop – Josh Kerr

Interchange – Sione Katoa, Kaide Ellis, Chris Lewis, Dylan Napa

TEAM 3

Fullback – James Tedesco

Wing – Tesi Niu

Centre – James Roberts

Centre – Jack Bird

Wing – Tristan Sailor

Five-Eighth – Anthony Milford

Halfback – Phoenix Crossland

Lock – Toby Rudolf

Second row – Corey Waddell

Second row – Tyrell Fuimaono

Prop – Tui Kamikamica

Hooker – Manase Fainu

Prop – Kane Evans

Interchange – Daniel Alvaro, Corey Horsburgh, T C Robati, Tyrone May, Josh Dugan

The Tri-Series will be played over the Christmas holidays in front of packed stadiums, without masks or social distancing, in whichever city is in the middle of a strict COVID-19 lockdown.

Image: NuNa

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

Reece Walsh still in the running for a second major award.

Young NRL star Reece Walsh could add The Frownlow Medal to his rookie award this year after he was arrested for cocaine possession late one night at Surfer’s Paradise.

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.

Moments after winning the RLPA Rookie of the Year award, Walsh was arrested at the popular nightclub strip for disobeying a move-on order, and recently confessed to being in possession of cocaine at the time.

The freakishly-talented player was the hot favourite to also win the Dally M Rookie of the Year award, but was ruled out. Not because of the recent drug bust, but because he was suspended for on-field indiscretions twice in the season.

Reece took the NRL by storm this year and at just 18 was selected for Queensland in State of Origin, but missed the game through injury. He impressed so many people when he switched to the Warriors mid-season that Kiwi legend Roger Tuivasa-Sheck moved to the wing to allow Walsh to play fullback.

He has now moved himself firmly into the senior ranks by getting nominated for the most prestigious award in Australian sport, The Frownlow Medal. He also repeated the ultimate footballer’s cliche when he said in media interviews earlier this year that he will “look to personally set a positive example for the next generation” and that he wants to make his baby daughter proud of him.

Image: NuNa

New threat forces changes to NRL Dally M awards.

A looming threat forced the NRL to make unpopular changes to the Dally M awards night in 2021 – and it wasn’t the AFL. The NRL altered the traditional format of its awards presentation in response to the growing popularity of The Frownlow Medal celebration.

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.

The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.

Rugby League fans slammed the new format which saw the awards stretched over two separate nights a week apart. The first instalment returned poor television ratings and attracted widespread criticism across social media. Experts suspected the downfall could be blamed on the timing of the AFL Brownlow Medal ceremony, but realised that it was the Frownlow award which was stealing the thunder.

“Every player wants to go to the awards night for The Frownlow Medal,” revealed NRL boss Andrew Abdo.

“It is a huge night of massive partying with no rules or restrictions with players from across NRL, AFL, Super Rugby and the A-League. Players get unlimited drugs, booze, women, music, sports gambling and no pesky journalists. No player can resist this, and it’s no wonder that party is more popular than the Dally Ms.”

Players have been displaying less interest in the Dally M night since the Frownlow Medal was introduced in 2015. In response, the NRL decided to experiment with a new format in order to win back players and fans.

“The Dally M used to be the most prestigious award in the NRL, but now it’s the Frownlow,” conceded Abdo.

“Just look at the number of NRL players who get nominated every year, and the fact that every medallist, except for 2020, has been an NRL player.”

The awards night for The Fronwlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame will be held later this year. The potential venues include Northies, Jarryd Hayne’s Hillsong Church, Paul Vaughan’s house or the restaurant in which Adam Elliott and Millie Boyle enjoyed their toilet tryst.

Image: NuNa