COREY PARKER: RTS LOOKS BEST BET FOR DALLY M MEDAL
Fox League's COREY PARKER nominates his picks for tonight's Dally M awards
IT'S no surprise that after the most unpredictable season in NRL history, trying to pick a Dally M team of the year and Dally M Medal winner is a nightmare.
It was hard to establish a form line week to week in the NRL, so you almost need a degree in astrophysics to find one for the entire season.
When picking a team of the year you have to keep a couple of things in mind - how the player's team performed and how each individual player performed in that team.
Kalyn Ponga, James Tedesco and Billy Slater all had amazing years. You could also make an argument for Valentine Holmes, although he spent plenty of time on the wing at the start of the year, but Tuivasa-Sheck is the pick for me. Everything the Warriors did well this year came off his back. RTS finished the year with eight try assists, 13 line breaks and averaged 178m per game. Brilliant.
Winger: Blake Ferguson
It was the simple things Ferguson did well this year that has him the frontrunner for Dally M winger of the year. He finished the year with more runs and more running metres than any other player in the comp, wasn't afraid to do the tough carries for his side and he finished the year with 18 tries.
Centre: Latrell Mitchell
When he was on he was the best player on the field, and he was on more than he was off. Mitchell was a handful for every defensive line and finished the year with 16 tries and 17 line breaks. He was a major factor behind the Roosters' minor premiership.
Five-eighth: Cameron Munster
James Maloney had a top start to the year for the Panthers but battled with injury late in the year. Gareth Widdop also had a standout season for the Dragons but, like Maloney, missed crucial games at the back end due to injury. In contrast, Munster came home with a wet sail and was one of the game's best post-Origin.
Halfback: Cooper Cronk
Had Mitchell Pearce remained injury free in 2018 he would have gone close. Adam Reynolds will fancy his chances after a stellar season that included 12 try assists and nine line-break assists. But there's been no more consistent player than Cronk. He has owned every big moment for the Roosters.
Prop: Matt Lodge
A toss of the coin between Andrew Fifita and Lodge. For me, Lodge was the standout. No player was under more pressure coming into the season but he let his football do the talking. He played in every game during the season and came up with some great stats, averaging 11 hit-ups, 23 tackles and 129m per game.
Hooker: Damien Cook
Not only the best hooker in the game in 2018, Cook will go close to being crowned the best player. With his speed out of dummy half, he averaged an impressive 104m per game, but his defence also proved a strength for Souths - an average of 42 tackles per game.
Second row: Viliame Kikau
Kikau was the breakout player of last year's World Cup and he carried that form throughout the 2018 season. Kikau was a handful in attack and a pillar of strength in defence for the Panthers in just his second season in the NRL. The numbers don't lie. He averaged 13 hit-ups, 129m and 22 tackles per game, but it was the second-phase play he created from his 44 offloads that made the Panthers so dangerous.
Lock: Jason Taumalolo
There was one shining light for North Queensland in 2018, the form of Jason Taumalolo. He was unstoppable in 2017 and although he didn't reach the same heights this season, he was still incredible at the back of the scrum. Taumalolo broke an incredible 97 tackles in 2018, had 23 offloads and averaged 178m per game.
Coach: Anthony Seibold
It's hard to believe that 2018 was Seibold's first year as an NRL head coach. The Bunnies had missed the finals in the previous two seasons but Siebold came in, made the tough decisions, put faith in his charges and took them one game from the grand final.
Rookie of the Year:
Isaako was a point-scoring machine for the Broncos. Whether playing on the wing or filling in for Darius Boyd at fullback, Isaako showed a coolness under pressure that defies his age and experience.
Dally M Medal: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
For me it's a race in three between Kalyn Ponga, Damien Cook and Tuivasa-Sheck. But Ponga missed a few games towards the end of the year and Souths losing three in a row to end the season may hurt Cook's chances. I tipped Tuivasa-Sheck a month or so ago and I'll stick with him to claim the top award tonight. His performances across the board were outstanding.