Captain Cubicle and the Titty Fiddler lead the contenders for The Fronwlow Medal as the winter codes head into the 2022 finals.
Kalyn Ponga and his trusty servant Kurt Mann join Dustin Martin and a cast of footballing role models who have excelled themselves off the field – but neither are favourites to win the prestigious medal.
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 star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.
Ponga and Mann were filmed being escorted out of a toilet cubicle in Newcastle. They were fully clothed, with drinks in hand, and claimed that Mann was helping his captain to vomit after consuming too many drinks to celebrate a house purchase. This was later found to be a lie, and the real reason was never revealed. While neither player was punished, the incident ended a horrible season for Ponga’s Knights.
This was not the first Fronwlow nomination for Mann or Ponga, nor for the Titty Fiddler. Martin appeared in a leaked video appearing to (allegedly) touch a woman’s breast from behind during a social gathering at an entertainment venue. The video was apparently taken in 2015, but released the day before Richmond’s crucial finals game against Brisbane, prompting concern for Martin and the Tigers heading into the game, but not for the woman who was (allegedly) touched without consent. As we learned in previous seasons, Martin is not the only Richmond player who likes to fondle other people’s private parts.
George Burgess of the St George Illawarra Dragons was also in trouble for (allegedly) touching a woman without consent, but is waiting for the outcome of his court case.
Martin was allowed to play in the final, despite the video, as was Taylan May, who was caught on CCTV assaulting a man at a bar in Brisbane in 2021, but cleared to play for Penrith in the crucial NRL final against arch rivals Parramatta, and allowed to delay his two-match suspension until 2023.
Frownlow favourite Jordan de Goey made his annual bid for glory. The Collingwood star was nominated in 2017, 2018 and 2020, and 3 times in 2021. He has also earned two nominations in 2022. He appears in a lewd video in which someone tries to expose a woman’s breasts in a bar in Bali, then blames the media for mistreating him and resorts to the hashtag ‘Enough is Enough’ to avoid punishment. The hashtag is used to support victims of mass shootings in the USA. He then blamed mental health issues and ADHD for his behaviour.
Bailey Smith also cited mental health issues to justify his latest indiscretion. The Golden Mullet was punished for appearing in a social media post holding a bag of white powder, and is no stranger to Frownlow judges or the darker corners of social media.
The AFL an NRL stars listed above have all put their hand up and done the hard yards to win the Frownlow this year, but none of them are favourite. The favourite helped earn nominations for Manly trio Josh Schuster, Josh Aloiai and Haumole Olakau’atu, who used a televised NRL game to show support for their friend Manase Fainu.
Fainu is the favourite (at the time of writing) after he was recently found guilty of stabbing a man outside a Mormon Church dance in Sydney in 2019. He will never play NRL again and might have to accept the medal from behind bars, where he will have plenty of time to pray.
Fainu should feel confident about winning the biggest prize in Australian sport, but should not start celebrating. A week is a long time in football, so four months is plenty of time to make a run for The Fronwlow Medal. What’s more, we haven’t heard any reports of scandalous behaviour from AFL and NRL Mad Monday celebrations…yet.
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