There are some familiar names at the pointy end of outright betting for the 2019 Dally M Medal.
Three of the past four winners are in the mix again this year, as are two of the standout performers in the 2019 State of Origin series.
Most online bookmakers have it pegged as a two-horse race, but will we see an upset when the final tallies are confirmed in the first week of October?
In a side littered with stars, James Tedesco stands head and shoulders above the rest.
The Sydney Roosters fullback is a certified match-winner who leads the competition in several key stats, including line breaks (22) and tackle breaks (148).
While he was three votes behind Mitchell Pearce when the Dally M leaderboard was last published after round 12, he is guaranteed to make up ground during Sydney’s seven-game winning run in the back half of the year.
Having already claimed the Wally Lewis Medal and the Brad Fittler Medal for his stellar efforts in NSW’s Origin win, Tedesco is odds-on to complete an impressive individual treble.
With Cooper Cronk leaving Victoria at the end of 2017 and Billy Slater retiring a year later, it seemed inevitable that Cameron Smith would follow soon enough.
Yet even though he celebrated his 36th birthday in June, the Melbourne Storm skipper has showed no signs of slowing down.
In fact, the Queenslander looks revitalised since bowing out of representative footy and leads the comp for goals (99) and receipts (2,787) in another belter year for the Storm.
If anyone is going to snatch the Dally M from Tedesco, it is Smith.
Last year’s Dally M Medal winner has followed up with another excellent campaign for the New Zealand Warriors.
The question is whether his club’s ordinary results will affect Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s chances of back-to-back awards.
The Warriors lost five of their first seven games in 2019, which restricted their superstar skipper to nine Dally M votes after 12 rounds.
With NZ missing the finals by two full games, RTS would have to poll maximums in most of their wins to have any chance.
Midway through the season, Cam Munster was just about a lock for the 2019 Dally M Medal.
He was still among the frontrunners a few weeks ago, but his odds have drifted after missing three of the Storm’s last 10 games.
The biggest issue, however, is that Munster’s club captain – and a two-time Dally M winner, no less – is one of the favourites for the award.
But the Storm will have plenty of votes to share around after 20 wins, so Cam the younger might be the best bet outside the top two.
There are few better sights in NRL footy than Jason Taumalolo running at the opposition line with the ball in hand.
Remarkably, the 2016 Dally M Medal winner polled 12 votes in the first dozen rounds despite missing five games with a knee injury.
The Kiwi lock played in five wins during that stretch, but things went south for the North Queensland Cowboys from that point on.
As with Tuivasa-Sheck, it seems unlikely that Taumalolo can win the medal again with so few victories under his belt.
Outside chances in 2019 Dally M Medal betting
Damien Cook ($26 at Sportsbet) – South Sydney’s star hooker was a red-hot contender in the first half of the year, but his performances tapered off somewhat after the Origin series and the Bunnies’ streaky form will not have helped his chances.
Mitchell Moses ($26 at Sportsbet) – As the string-puller behind the most exciting attack in the league, Moses should pick up plenty of votes in Parramatta’s wins. But has his craft and guile been overshadowed by the explosive running of Gutherson, Sivo, et al?
Mitchell Pearce ($26 at Sportsbet) – Newcastle’s gun halfback led the Dally M count at the halfway stage, but nine losses for the Knights in the last 12 rounds will make it tough for Pearce to keep pace with Tedesco, Smith and the rest.
2019 Dally M Medal leaderboard
This is how things looked when the Dally M votes were last publicised at the end of round 12:
15 – Mitchell Pearce
14 – Damien Cook, Cameron Munster
12 – Cameron Smith, Jason Taumalolo, James Tedesco
11 – Mitchell Moses
10 – Sam Burgess, Clint Gutherson, Payne Haas, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Chad Townsend, Cody Walker
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