Canberra’s Jack Wighton claims NRL’s Dally M Medal after The Daily Telegraph publishes result early

Canberra five-eighth Jack Wighton was crowned the NRL’s Dally M Medal winner hours after the result was accidentally reported in the media.

The Daily Telegraph had published a story on its website earlier on Monday evening revealing Wighton had claimed the NRL’s highest individual honour.

The Daily Telegraph journalist Phil Rothfield acknowledged the newspaper’s website had published the result before it was officially announced.

“Owing to a production error that was out of my control, The Daily Telegraph website accidentally published the winner of the Dally M award before the official announcement tonight,” Rothfield wrote on Twitter.

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“We apologise sincerely for the mistake.”

Wighton became the first Raider to win the Dally M Medal since Laurie Daley in 1995 and the third from the club, with Ricky Stuart (1993) having also been awarded the honour.

He polled 26 votes across the 20 rounds of the minor premiership to finish ahead of Parramatta’s Clint Gutherson (25 votes) and Penrith’s Nathan Cleary (24).

Wighton was also named in the Dally M Team of the Year at five-eighth.

“It was a rocky year and we had some key players go down with injury. We didn’t finish the way we wanted to finish but I’m still proud of all the boys’ efforts,” Wighton said.

“I really can’t believe it. It just feels amazing. As a kid I would never have thought I would be talking about something like this.

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Among the other awards announced as part of the virtual ceremony was the NRLW’s Dally M Medal, which went to Brisbane’s Ali Brigginshaw.

Brigginshaw praised the Broncos and her teammates after she was awarded the honour.

“They’re such a great club and the girls who come here all come together,” she said.

Penrith’s Ivan Cleary was named NRL Coach of the Year and Wests Tigers hooker Harry Grant was crowned Rookie of the Year.

Wighton pips the field

Wighton’s win followed a dramatic finish, with none of the top three polling votes in the final round of the season.

Wighton was rested for Canberra’s 38-28 win over Cronulla, while Gutherson and Cleary did not score votes despite playing crucial roles in their team’s round-20 victories.

Gutherson set up two tries in the Eels’ 28-24 win over the Wests Tigers, while Cleary’s halves partner Jarome Luai earned points in Penrith’s 42-0 defeat of Canterbury.

Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith also came close to winning the award, finishing fourth on 22 points despite missing five matches during the season.

He was named at hooker in the Team of the Year, with Storm teammate Josh Addo-Carr selected as one of the wingers.

The Storm’s grand final opponents, Penrith, had five players selected in the Team of the Year.

Cleary was named half-back, while prop James Fisher-Harris, second rower Viliame Kikau, lock Isaah Yeo and centre Stephen Crichton were also included.

A Penrith NRL players holds the ball with his right arm as he runs towards the try line against the Roosters.A Penrith NRL players holds the ball with his right arm as he runs towards the try line against the Roosters.
Nathan Cleary was selected as halfback in the Dally M Team of the Year.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

Warriors star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was named Captain of the Year and his team was also given the Provan-Summons Medal, which is the Spirit of the Game award.

Brigginshaw earned her first Dally M Medal as Female Player of the Year heading into Sunday’s NRLW grand final against the Sydney Roosters.

The Roosters’ Kennedy Cherrington was announced as NRLW Rookie of the Year.

“Tonight we honoured our most exceptional players in an extraordinary season,” NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said.

“Despite unprecedented challenges, our players took our game to a new level in 2020.”

ABC/AAP