Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
This year has seen arguably one of the strongest rookie classes emerge, with multiple candidates to be named the 2021 Dally M Rookie of the Year.
As we are getting very close to this year’s edition of the illustrious awards night it is time we take a look back at the Dally M Rookie of the Year recipients in recent history.
2011 – DALY CHERRY-EVANS
The current Sea Eagles and Queensland State of Origin captain has been one of the best players in the game since his debut year in 2011.
Not only was he named the Dally M Rookie of the Year, but went on to win the premiership with Manly Warringah in the same season, a feat that has not been matched since.
2012 – ADAM REYNOLDS
Adam Reynolds came close to replicating what Daly Cherry-Evans did one year prior, as the now Rabbitohs captain led the club to the preliminary final in his Rookie of the Year season.
He would; however, lead the club to premiership glory two years later and will always be remembered as a club legend, although he will be moving to the Brisbane Broncos in 2022.
2013 – GEORGE BURGESS
George Burgess may no longer be at the South Sydney Rabbitohs, but like Reynolds had an instant impact when debuting for the side.
In 2013, South Sydney would once again reach the preliminary final, before Burgess proved vital in their push for the premiership in 2014.
2014 – LUKE BROOKS
There has been plenty of speculation over Luke Brooks’ future as of late; however, when Brooks first came onto the scene his impact at the Tigers was clear and it seemed the club had a future superstar in the making.
Unfortunately, things have not exactly gone to plan as it seems very likely Brooks will part ways with the Tigers at the end of 2021 and hopefully revive his career elsewhere.
2015 – JACK BIRD
Jack Bird has certainly had a rollercoaster career thus far, with injuries plaguing him predominantly.
The former New South Wales State of Origin representative took out the 2015 Dally M Rookie of the Year honour before going on to win the premiership with Cronulla in 2016 and is now reinventing himself at the St George Illawarra Dragons.
2016 – ASHLEY TAYLOR
Ash Taylor came bursting onto the scene with the Gold Coast Titans in 2016, leading them to their first finals campaign in six years and showing the world that he was seemingly destined to be a star.
Unfortunately, the halfback never really kicked on after being signed to a million-dollar contract at the Titans, and despite showing glimpses of greatness will depart the club at the end of 2021 to greener pastures, where hopefully, he rekindles past form.
Where to next for $1m enigma Ash Taylor⁉️ And the four clubs who could revive the Gold Coast Titans star's career
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) August 26, 2021
2017 – NICK COTRIC
Nick Cotric’s emergence in 2017 came hot off the heels of a great season for the Canberra Raiders the year prior, and he would help them recapture that form, with the Green Machine making the 2019 Grand Final and the preliminary final in 2020.
In 2021, Cotric made the bold move to go to the Bulldogs, where the club has unfortunately secured their first wooden spoon in 12 years; however, he could prove a key player in their rebuild over the next few seasons.
2018 – JAMAYNE ISAAKO
While the 2018 Dally M Rookie of the Year Jamayne Isaako has lost his fullback spot at the Broncos to Tesi Niu, he has continued to provide a valuable service to the club and will do so for years to come.
2019 – PAYNE HAAS
Since winning the 2019 Dally M Rookie of the Year award, Payne Haas has gone on to be the Brisbane Broncos’ best player, as the club is seemingly on the up heading into 2022.
With his whole career ahead of him, Haas could one day be remembered as one of the greatest of all time!
2020 – HARRY GRANT
The NRL’s first loanee player, Harry Grant would have a huge impact during his 12 months at the Wests Tigers in 2020 and emerge as one of the game’s hottest prospects.
He has since become a Queensland State of Origin representative and was a part of the Melbourne Storm juggernaut that tied the record for the longest winning streak in a season, getting 19 wins on the trot.
WHO WINS THE 2021 DALLY M ROOKIE OF THE YEAR?
At least over the last couple of seasons, there has been a clear candidate to win the Dally M Rookie of the Year for the duration of the season; however, 2021 has thrown up many candidates that could realistically win the award, meaning there will be a couple of players who deserve to win but will miss out.
Daine Laurie would have been most people’s favourite after the first few weeks of the season; however, the emergence of other talent and his season-ending injury a few weeks ago may rule him out.
How about Reece Walsh, the superstar fullback at the Warriors who was set to make his Queensland State of Origin debut but was ruled out due to injury?
Walsh’s impact for the Warriors is clear to see and he is already arguably the club’s best player, but a small drop in form recently could cost him the award.
Sam Walker has also had a great rookie year for the Roosters as Kyle Flanagan’s replacement, but has had his off games too.
Josh Schuster from the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles would have to be the odds on favourite, not only due to how important he has proven to this premiership contender but as a result of his seamless transition from five-eighth to second-rower.