When the ARL Commission gets a few moments to discuss the day-to-day issues that need repair in the game, it could do worse than turn it’s attention to the Dally M Awards.
Control needs to be immediately removed from News Limited, or simply begin another awards system that is under the control of the ARL Commission. In recent years, the Players Association Awards has been gaining gravitas over the Dally M’s as they represent the views of the players themselves.
Sidelining News Limited would allow for a more impartial panel of experts to judge matches. Currently we have a clutch former players with television, newspaper and club contracts who judge the games.
This past weekend, Round 3, for example had only 5 judges: Greg Alexander (2 games), Andrew Johns (2 games), Ben Ikin (2 games), Wally Lewis and Gary Belcher (1 game each). Interestingly, Ikin used to work for the Titans in a marketing capacity yet judged their clash with Manly. Brandy is on the board of Penrith and Joey is assistant coach at Manly.
I suggest we find 8 judges who attend 1 game each week. These judges would be respected former players who have no current media or club ties. They would not be permitted to vote on games for clubs they have played at, served on at board level, or been employed at any other level.
A good example would be former Bulldogs and Warriors prop Steve Price.
News Limited could also redefine the Peter Frilingos Award, which is currently given as a memorial to a player since his death in 2004. It’s purpose is lost in the overall context of the awards night as the true focus is on the Player of the Year.
Next we need to review the 3-2-1 style system for point scoring, as it is way too simplistic for the modern game. This is highlighted by the distinct lack of forwards who win the award. You know, those guys who take it up the field so the little fellas can run amok?
Perhaps we move to a “Formula One” style system where we have a sliding scale and nominate up to 5 or 6 players who are awarded points every week per game?
These days each team usually has one superstar who regularly gets the majority of votes for that club if they win. Last year that was Ben Barba. This year it looks to be Greg Inglis.
And it can work against clubs like the Storm who have 3 great players. When they win big Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater usually share the points but is there really that much separating them?
Lastly it is time we put the awards under a media lock for the whole season and had a huge surprise at the annual event. And make it during Grand Final week to keep the focus on the NRL and not what goes on at the Brownlow with the AFL.
Instead we have this situation where the points are tallied until Round 16 and then removed from public viewing. By that stage it is generally a two or three horse race, making the winner no real surprise. This is unispiring and antiquated.
It’s time for change down at the ARL Commission. When you come up for breath from the drugs saga you’ve got plenty of work to get through.