Taylan May be a coward.

NRL player Taylan May might be a coward, or he may have acted in a cowardly manner when he earned his nomination for The Fronwlow 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.

If May is a coward, it means he does this type of thing on a regular basis, and that it is an integral part of his character. However, if he is cowardly, it means he acted this way on one occasion. This is an important distinction to make because it has a huge bearing on whether or not he wins The Fronwlow Medal this year.

The Penrith winger was nominated early in 2022, and was recently found guilty of assault occasioning bodily harm. His actions were labelled “reprehensible” and “cowardly” and he was ordered him to pay $1000 in compensation to the victim and a $1000 fine. He did not have a conviction recorded against him.

May was not stood down by the Panthers following the incident or during the court proceedings, and it is not known whether he will miss any games during the finals series. He has been rested for the upcoming game, which is the last of the regular season.

May was found guilty of assaulting a young fan while celebrating the 2021 grand final win in Queensland. He reportedly reacted to a young fan who had filmed teammate Nathan Cleary. Cleary wanted the video deleted and during the argument May grabbed the man by the collar of his shirt and pulled him to the ground. The man struck his head on the floor during the altercation and suffered a sprained neck.

Somewhat ironically, May was in the presence of his brother Tyrone, who was kicked out of the NRL after being found guilty of distributing a sex tape without the woman’s permission, and earned his own Frownlow nomination. It seems private videos on mobile phones are still a touchy subject for the May brothers.

Taylan himself might want to clarify the wording of his actions, because the last thing a rugby league player can afford to be is a coward.

Image: Getty Images

Why Taylan May believes he did nothing wrong.

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?

Image: NuNa