Kalyn Ponga has shocked many by claiming the 2023 Dally M Medal from hot favourite Shaun Johnson in an eventful night at Randwick Racecourse.
Johnson seemed most good experts winner after an incredible season at the Warriors but a big run late from Ponga saw him claim the NRL’s top individual prize.
“This was probably the worst year and the best year all in one… it definitely feels like two years in one,” Ponga said on Wednesday evening.
“The conversations I had with my parents were quite real.
“When I went over [to Canada for rehabilitation] I felt pretty guilty but it was a build-up of the year before and not playing because of concussion.
“I just wanted to come back and make people proud, do my job and be the player I know I can be.”
Many however believed Johnson should have won easily after leading the feel-good story of the year into the finals.
Johnson’s Warriors teammate Jazz Tevaga took to Instagram on Thursday arguing Johnson was “robbed” of his first Dally M win.