Can Jarryd Hayne return to glory?

Former NRL player and current prisoner Jarryd Hayne could claim the greatest prize in Australian sport this year. Hayne is the favourite to win The Frownlow Medal, ahead of 61 professional footballers who have earned nominations for all manner of off-field scandals.

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.

Hayne is possibly the most talented player to have never won a grand final. He came close with Parramatta one year, and almost single-handedly won a State of Origin series for NSW on one occasion. He now languishes in prison after being found guilty of sexual assault.

Can anyone beat Hayne?

Former NRL player Mananse Fainu poses a strong threat. He is still awaiting the outcome of his legal proceedings after he was accused of stabbing someone outside a Mormon church dance back in 2019. Another Dragons player, Tristan Sailor, was also accused of rape but has not been found guilty as COVID-19 slows down court proceedings in Australia.

Other challengers

Hayne saw off the challenge of another accused rapist, fellow NRL player Jack de Belin. The Dragons and NSW player was found not guilty of sexual assault after a long court case, but is still in contention after attending Paul Vaughan‘s infamous BBQ. This unsanctioned house party led to nominations for another 11 Dragons players, and created the Matt Dufty Fun Run around the streets of Shellharbour.

Corey Norman won the medal in 2016 and was also at the BBQ. He thought he could outsmart the cops by fleeing on foot, but he left behind his phone and car – with personalised number plates. It was his second nomination of 2021, after getting into a brawl outside Northies.

Gender equity

2021 marked a milestone for The Frownlow Medal. Nita Maynard became the first woman to be nominated after getting drunk and taking on a bouncer at Northies. Fellow NRLW player Millie Boyle followed her lead and earned a nomination after being caught in a toilet tryst with misguided NRL player Adam Elliott.

The Breachers

Breaching COVID-19 protocols earned nominations for many footballers this year, even though that particular scandal failed to win the Frownlow for any nominees in 2020. Footballers never learn. Many players breached some form of protocols, including perennial nominees James Roberts, and fellow NRL player Josh Dugan, who was caught by police more than 3 hours from home, twice, on the same day.

Jai Arrow and Api Koroisau were both punished for smuggling women into their restricted hotels rooms during the State of Origin series. Koroisau is married, and Arrow is sponsored by a food delivery company which guarantees fast and efficient delivery.

NRL dominance

NRL players look determined to win back what they believe is their birthright, after Taylor claimed it for the AFL in 2020. They comprise 47 of the 61 nominees. They also supplied two of the most bizarre nominations. Victor Radley was punished by the NRL for tackling someone, while Lachlan Lewis was caught trying to sell a speaker on EBay, after stealing it from a room in the Bulldogs’ hub.

AFL defence

The AFL defence looks flimsy. Jordan De Goey earned three nominations in one year, for essentially being Jordan De Goey, while Taylor Walker made a racist comment and a pathetic attempt to apologise for his racist outburst. Nine more AFL players were nominated for relatively minor offences, and so far they look unlikely to reclaim the medal.

Super Rugby

Super Rugby has offered four candidates. Suliasi Vunivalu earned his nomination before even playing a game in his new code, while three Rebels Marika Koroibete, Isi Naisarani and Pone Fa’amausili had a few quiet drinks in their team hotel and broke curfew while playing for the Wallabies. Apparently Rebels are not allowed to rebel.

A- League Absence

The A-League has never won The Fronwlow Medal and has failed to supply any candidates in 2021. Why?

Hayne might be accepting The Frownlow Medal from his prison cell later this year, but it is only September, and four months is a very long time in football.

Image: NuNa

The Frownlow Medal Power Couple.

NRL players Adam Elliott and Millie Boyle have become The Frownlow Medal’s Power Couple after being caught kissing in the toilets at a restaurant recently, and they will be the first couple in history to attend the Frownlow awards night together.

They will also have a toilet cubicle named after them in The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame, beside the Sonny Bill Williams cubicle.

Elliott and Boyle earned the status of Power Couple after being asked to leave a Gold Coast venue when it was discovered they had shared a kiss in the men’s bathroom. Media reports allege Elliott was shirtless, but Boyle stated publicly that the incident was nothing more than an innocent kiss after they’d had a few too many drinks.

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 Bulldogs and Broncos players are not the first pairing to be nominated for Frownlow honours, but are the first duo who both play a football code in Australia. Former AFL player and Wife Beater Nick Stevens, and his girlfriend Amelia Miller, were both nominated in 2016, but Amelia never played professional football.

Elliott has consequently been stood down for the remaining two games of the season and the NRL is investigating the incident, while Boyle has apparently not been sanctioned.

Boyle now becomes the second woman nominated for Frownlow honours, after fellow NRLW player Nita Maynard made history earlier this year with her nomination. Elliott, meanwhile, is very familiar to fans of The Frownlow Medal.

He claimed he would take “professional help in regards to issues with alcohol” after a series of off-field incidents. Just this year, he was accused of getting too close to the wife or his former teammate, Michael Lichaa during a party at Lichaa’s house. In 2018, he appeared dancing naked on the front page of the newspaper when the Bulldogs’ Mad Monday celebration got wild.

Media outlets are reporting that since the incident with Boyle, one of the people Elliott called to apologise for yet another mistake was the Canterbury-Bankstown club sponsor. He apparently told the sponsor that he will never cause an off-field controversy again, and will control his alcohol intake. He better not if he wants to win The Frownow Medal.

Image: NuNa

It happened…

A woman has been nominated for The Frownlow Medal. NRLW player Nita Maynard becomes the first woman to receive the honour since the award’s inception in 2015, after she was involved in an incident at a pub in Sydney.

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 former NSW and New Zealand representative was charged after allegedly assaulting two security guards at Northies in Cronulla, the site which earned nominations for so many players in the past, including 2019 winner Ben Barba and 2016 medallist Corey Norman. Maynard was arrested, and media reports indicate she had to be restrained after becoming aggressive and assaulting the guards.

The Sydney Roosters hooker was taken to Sutherland police station and charged with two counts of common assault and failing to leave premises when required. Interestingly, two hookers from the Roosters men’s team, Victor Radley and Jake Friend, are also Frownlow nominees, so perhaps it has rubbed off on Maynard. That said, the Roosters and the NRL have conveniently palmed off the scandal to the North Sydney Bears, the Roosters’ feeder club, where Maynard currently plays. You’d think the Rooster’s would be proud to claim such a history-making achievement.

Rumours have also surfaced that Maynard has been asked to join the men’s team when her expected suspension ends. The Roosters have suffered many injuries to key players already this season, and they know Maynard would fit in during team bonding sessions.

The nomination of a woman is unprecedented, and has left many questions unanswered:

Does she compete against men for the award?

Yes. The Frownlow Medal does not discriminate. The Frownlow Medal has always judged players on their actions and not their gender, race, colour, religion, sexuality or nationality. Players need only represent an Australia – based team from one of the four major codes in order to qualify. Woman have always been eligible, they just hadn’t been nominated.

Is this a new era of gender equality?

Perhaps.

Can she attend the awards night for The Frownlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame?

Yes, but would she want to? She’d be the only woman there.

Why did she do it?

Who knows. Apparently she’d had a few drinks, and alcohol has caused most of the nominations for The Frownlow Medal. Then again, it happened in The Shire, so maybe she mistook the security guard for Prime Minister Scott Morrison and did what many Australian women would love to do – take a swing!

Will she win?

She’s a chance. As they say in sport, you’ve got to be in it to win it. She faces tough opposition, though, from players nominated for stabbing, assault and rape.

Either way, Maynard will now be remembered as the first woman in history to be nominated for The Frownlow Medal.

Will she be the last?

Image: NuNa