Taylan May did it for the boys. He did it for the club, and for the great game of rugby league. That’s why he believes he escaped punishment from the NRL for an alleged assault in Queensland in 2021.
May has been charged with assault occasioning bodily harm after allegedly dragging a man to the ground at a Sunshine Coast nightclub while celebrating Penrith’s grand final win, and has received a nomination for The Frownlow 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.
May is adamant he did nothing wrong, and is not afraid of punishment from the courts, because he did what he did to protect captain Nathan Cleary from hecklers.
“I stuck up for Cleary. I don’t think I was in the wrong,” he told the media.
“Anyone in my position, if they’re a good friend, they would have done what I did.”
He also did it for the team. Winning Frownlow honours is the greatest achievement for any Australia-based football team. Plenty of Panthers players have been inducted into The Fronwlow Medal Hall of Fame, including Craig Gower, but none of the medallists has played for Penrith. May’s own brother, Tyrone, played for the Panthers and came close to winning in 2021. He pleaded guilty to four counts of recording intimate images without consent. He was sentenced to 300 hours of community work and narrowly avoided jail time. Another offence saw him lose his contract.
Taylan’s actions earned praise from his coach Ivan Cleary.
“He’ll always put others above himself,” Cleary said to the media.
“Growing up it’s probably got him into a bit of trouble, but that’s why we love him, he’s constantly putting the team first and putting his brothers ahead of him.”
“He’s definitely not a selfish guy.”
He also did it for rugby league.
The NRL took no action against the rookie, suggesting they are trying to protect The Frownlow Medal, which they have won every year except 2020, when it went to AFL player Elijah Taylor. Punishing May would keep him on the sidelines and thus less able to remind Frownlow judges that a rugby league player deserves to win the medal yet again.
“I didn’t want the situation to escalate. (My teammates) are big names, I’m a nobody . . . the security were on my side. The situation for me, it doesn’t really faze me. I’ve put it behind me and just focused on the game,” May explained.
Has May done enough to keep The Frownlow Medal in the hands of the NRL for another year?