With one round of the NRL season in the books, we’ve had 80 minutes to look at most of the relevant Dally M Medal candidates before their prices take a significant hit.
Considering Jason Taumalolo is the only player in the NRL era not playing in a spine position to win the award, it’s no surprise to see him involved. In fact, his 286-metre effort in Round 1 has him as the current favourite ahead of four other serious contenders.
Jason Taumalolo – $9.50: The biggest JT on the block is a deserved favourite and a genuine chance at keeping hold of the tag for much of the season. The Cowboys are expected to be big improvers in 2019. If they win enough games to finish in the Top 8, Taumalolo will have played a significant role. With that comes regular Dally M points.
Kalyn Ponga – $10: A fan favourite last season, Ponga might struggle to replicate his run in 2019. He seems destined to win the award one day. However, playing in a new position and with a healthy Mitchell Pearce along with David Klemmer possibly stealing more points from him this season, there are better options elsewhere.
Cameron Munster – $12: Munster has been an elite half for years, but this is his best chance to win the Dally M so far. With Cooper Cronk and now Billy Slater out of the picture, Munster is the main man alongside Cameron Smith. Even if the pair pinch points from each other, the Storm are going to win plenty of games. In terms of the shorter priced halves, Munster is the pick.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – $12: The 2018 Dally M Medalist looks set to be in the hunt again. He was brilliant in the season-opener, and as the best player and face of the Warriors, will receive plenty of attention when judges are handing out points. He showed last season by only scoring three tries and recording eight try assists that piling up points on the field isn’t necessary to win the award. RTS already has one of each in 2019, though.
James Tedesco – $14: Tedesco has given his backers an extra week to get on board before catching fire. He was kept quiet in Round 1 but there isn’t much chance of that happening too many times this season. With so many big names in the Roosters roster, Tedesco may struggle to consistently pick up points. A player of his calibre is always in the hunt so Teddy can’t be ignored.
Damien Cook – $17: At the front of the peloton chasing the favourites is arguably 2018’s most exciting player. He was brilliant, yet somehow, didn’t get the recognition he deserved from the judges to finish with 18 points – the same as Warriors hooker Issac Luke. If he couldn’t win it then, it’s hard to see it happening now. Teams are ready for him and most anticipate a slight reduction in Cook’s numbers for 2019.
Michael Morgan – $18: Morgan is a great option in this market. If it’s not Taumalolo leading the Cowboys to victory, it’s going to be Morgan. It’s as though people have forgotten how good Morgan is following his injury-riddled 2018 NRL season with how he’s being talked about. He already looks better as the main man in the halves. This $18 price won’t last.
Cameron Smith – $18: If his performance in Round 1 is anything to go by, Smith will be well and truly in the hunt for his third Dally M Medal. Taking a more hands-on approach to the Storm attack, forget the fact that Smith is about to turn 36-years old. The $18 is the important number and one worth taking right now. He’s going to have his fingerprints all over another successful Storm season.
Josh Hodgson – $19: The closest player to Smith in the position, Hodgson was tipped as Canberra’s best bet at $26 before the season kicked off. A strong game saw his price tumble and it could soon go further with Hodgson instrumental to any success that might come the Raiders’ way. Relying on his teammates to find the wins required for him to be in the conversation isn’t ideal. However, as the NRL’s second-best hooker, Hodgson won’t need too much help. Back him in.
We saw Ponga come in from $251 to be the favourite last season. Anything can happen this far out from the medal ceremony.
Mitchell Pearce is in at $20 with Nathan Cleary and Gareth Widdop at $21 to be just outside the group chasing the favourites after Round 1. A gap opens up for Sam Burgess, Nathan Cleary and Matt Moylan to sit at $26. Meanwhile, young halves Luke Brooks and Anthony Milford occupy the next line at $31.
If it’s a real roughie you’re after, throw down on Blake Green at $67. He was in everything the Warriors did for 70 touches in Round 1. Mr Consistent, he’s the sort of player that will pick up charity points in a beaten side.