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