BY CURTIS WOODWARD
The 2017 Dally M Awards is in jeopardy as the pay saga between the NRL and RLPA continues. Ironically, it could mean that RLPA President Cameron Smith misses out on claiming rugby league’s richest individual prize.
NRL and club bosses recently agreed on a $9.4 million salary cap for 2018 only for it to be rejected by the RLPA because they want a fixed share of revenue streams and other particulars including welfare, insurance and access to players’ bank records.
If the Dally M’s are canned – it’s Smith who has the most to lose.
“We haven’t ruled anything out,” Cronulla Sharks five-eighth James Maloney said this week.
“Obviously at this stage there are things we’ve got that we can use as leverage if the NRL didn’t want to come to the party.
“We’ve said all along we want a fixed share of revenue. We can’t do a deal that gives us a set amount of revenue and over five years when the game makes well above what it was predicted to make we end up getting a hell of a lot less.
“That’s where we’ve been the whole way through.”
Since The81stMinute’s first Player of the Year award was handed out in 2012 – only once has the winner of our award and that of the Dally M been different.
Ben Barba won both awards in 2012. Jarryd Hayne and Johnathan Thurston were given our gong in 2014 with both receiving the Dally M a few short weeks later. Thurston grabbed both in 2015 while Cooper Cronk, Jason Taumalolo and Thurston won our Player of the Year last season. The Dally M then went to Taumalolo and Cronk.
Smith led the Dally M when it went behind closed doors in Round 14.
The81stMinute’s Steele Sports Medal then went behind closed doors after Round 23 with Smith on 26 votes – two votes ahead of Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce.
Smith has not won the Dally M since 2006 and in an ironic twist of fate, would not claim his second if the boycott goes ahead.
The last time the Dally M Medal was cancelled was in 2003 with Penrith Panthers halfback Craig Gower destined to win as the Panthers charged to their second premiership.
Gower though did not want the Dally M to be used as a bargaining chip by the RLPA saying in 2015 that players should consider boycotting premiership games instead.
“That is player-driven. You’re just affecting yourself. Until they start affecting the game and the league, when are they going to be brought in to have a chat?”
RLPA CEO Ian Prendergast said this week that turning their back on the Dally M was not an empty threat.
“We can’t rule out taking action. They’ll stand up and fight for what’s fair,” Prendergast said.
“We discussed next steps if we can’t secure the outstanding objectives that we need to deliver a successful CBA, not only for the players, but for the game.
“We’ve still got a month before the Dally M and I believe that by locking ourselves away we can avoid taking that action but I certainly can’t rule that out.”
Realistically, boycotting the Dally M’s only hurts one man and that’s RLPA President Mr. Cameron Smith.