Melbourne Storm skipper Cameron Smith was crowned the NRL’s 2017 Dally M winner on Wednesday night – and immediately set his sights on topping the honour with a premiership.
Snaring 33 votes to win by eight votes from North Queensland Cowboys halfback Michael Morgan, it was Smith’s second Dally M medal, coming 11 years after his first.
Smith and Morgan will get to reprise the rivalry on Sunday when their teams meet in the NRL Grand Final.
St George Illawarra’s Gareth Widdop (24) was third in the revamped medal count, with Sydney Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary and Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen finishing equal fourth (22).
The Storm skipper is now aiming to become the first player to claim the Dally M, win the NRL title and lead his country to rugby league World Cup success in the same year.
— NRL (@NRL) September 27, 2017
Smith said winning the award late in his career was a huge honour.
“This is pretty special … You know considering I’m at the back end of my career now rather than at the beginning,” he said.
“You know being 34 and having the opportunity to win another Dally M is pretty special. But everyone knows this is not an individual sport.”
In 2017 Smith broke the record for most NRL appearances, ticked over 40 State of Origin appearances, passed 2000 points and also went past 1000 goals.
He thanked his wife Barbara for her support throughout a long, glittering career.
“She’s one of the best, Barb. We were just talking this year when I played my 40th State of Origin game. Each game is 10 days in camp, so that’s 400 days I’ve spent away from my family and my beautiful wife,” he said.
“She’s been that whole time at home with three children, looking after them, raising them, making sure everything’s great at home.
“Sincerely thank you very much for everything you’ve done, not only for myself but for the rest of the family. I don’t think I’d be up here if it wasn’t for you.”
With the Storm to meet the Cowboys in the grand final on Sunday, Smith said the key to his success was having fun and teamwork.
“I don’t really look back on all the years and compare them,” he said.
“I have just really enjoyed every game I have played in and being part of such a special group in the Melbourne Storm at the moment. I turn up every day at training and have fun.
“It is a game that I have loved since I was four years old and that love hasn’t changed and I think that enjoyment has helped me play the style of footy I have played this year. But those records they come with time don’t they, I’m one of the oldest players in the competition now …
“At the end of the day it is not about the personal accolades it is about the team and getting the ultimate accolade which is obviously the result on Sunday so hopefully that goes our way.”
Smith was also named Captain of the Year and Hooker of the Year, while his Melbourne teammate Billy Slater won the Fullback of the Year award. Storm coach Craig Bellamy was Coach of the Year.
THE NRL’S 2017 WINNERS
Captain of the Year: Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm)
Peter Moore Award for Rookie of the Year: Nick Cotric (Canberra Raiders)
Holden Cup Player of the Year: Jake Clifford (North Queensland Cowboys)
Top Points Scorer: Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
Top Try Scorer: Suliasi Vunivalu (Melbourne Storm)
Tackle of the Year: Nathan Brown (Parramatta Eels)
Try of the Year: Kyle Feldt (North Queensland Cowboys)
Coach of the Year: Craig Bellamy (Melbourne Storm)
Peter Frilingos Headline Moment: Mitchell Pearce (Sydney Roosters)
Provan Summons People’s Choice Medal: Clinton Gutherson (Parramatta Eels)
Female Player of the Year: Simaima Taufa (Jillaroos)
Fullback of the Year: Billy Slater (Melbourne Storm)
Winger of the Year: Jordan Rapana (Canberra Raiders)
Centre of the Year: Dylan Walker (Manly Sea Eagles)
Five-eighth of the Year: Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Halfback of the Year: Michael Morgan (North Queensland Cowboys)
Lock of the Year: Paul Gallen (Cronulla Sharks)
Second-rower of the Year: Matt Gillett (Brisbane Broncos)
Prop of the Year: Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers)
Hooker of the Year: Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm)
Interchange Player of the Year: Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Penrith Panthers)
Dally M Player of the Year: Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm)