Not only did Nicho Hynes win the Dally M medal and halfback of the year award at the NRL's night of nights on Wednesday, he also shone an important light on mental health following the tragic death of Paul Green.
Hynes capped off a remarkable maiden season at Cronulla with a record Dally M haul after claiming the NRL's top gong in dominant fashion.
The Sharks halfback became the clear star of rugby league's night of nights on Wednesday, running away with the Dally M and finishing on a record 38 points.
Three points behind Ben Hunt at the halfway mark of the season, Hynes stormed home to beat out James Tedesco by five points, while Hunt finished third.
But it wasn't just his feats on the field that were acknowledged on Wednesday night, with Hynes also winning the Provan Summons spirit of NRL award for his work in raising awareness for mental health following Green's death.
Green was found unresponsive at his home in Brisbane in August, with the former North Queensland coach's death at 49 sending shockwaves around the rugby league community.
Speaking in a post-match TV interview just days after the tragedy, Hynes made a powerful statement about mental health and suicide awareness.
“There’s ‘R U OK’ day every year and it’s coming up soon, but I think we need to have ‘R U OK’ day every single day of the year,” he said.
“We need to think about it a bit more and spread the message of mental health. It’s such an important thing at the moment."
Hynes sent his love to Green's family, saying: "All of us here at the Sharks are thinking of you.
“He was an important part of this club and I just want to pay my respects and condolences to you guys, we’re thinking of you.”
Nicho Hynes continues to prove why he's one of the best role models in the NRL.
Classy words to Paul Green's family and a wonderful message about mental health - something he does consistently, speaking so openly about his experiences.#NRLTigersSharks pic.twitter.com/o1X5MUEg05
— Lachlan McKirdy (@LMcKirdy7) August 13, 2022
Speaking on stage on Wednesday night after being honoured with the Provan Summons award, Hynes said: "People commit suicide too much these days and if I can play an important role in trying to change that, and get people to speak up, I'm going to raise more awareness of that."
— Aden Larance (@AdenLarance2) September 28, 2022
Lovely lad is Nicho
— 91 03 21 PREMIERS 🐾🏆 (@SnoogThe) September 28, 2022
Cannot disagree with this, he's an impressive person
— Jo Cornick 🐾 (@Mojo_cornick) September 28, 2022
Yassssss Nicho ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
— Sara Sassypants (@SaraSassypants) September 28, 2022
So well deserved
— melissa (@melsportslover) September 28, 2022
So well deserved 🖤🤍💙
— Deb Efthymiades (@DebDebeee) September 28, 2022
Nicho Hynes wins Dally M medal with record haul
In winning the Dally M, Hynes joins the likes of Johnathan Thurston as just the fifth player in history to claim the award in his first season at a new club.
"I can hand on heart say I came here not expecting anything at all," he said.
"I can't believe it. It's bloody crazy. I am pinching myself.
"To have this around my neck. I frothed Johnathan Thurston growing up, Andrew Johns.
"And now I am alongside them. It's unbelievable."
A playmaker as a junior, Craig Fitzgibbon placed his faith in the 26-year-old as one of his first signings to lead the Sharks into the next era as No.7.
He was instantly rewarded, with Hynes setting up 26 tries in a stellar season and becoming the first Shark to win the award since Preston Campbell in 2001.
And he did it all with his mother as his date for the night, admitting she had almost brought him to tears.
"I almost had a little tear come down (during my speech). We have been through a hell of a lot," he said.
"Everything I do is for her, and obviously my dad too ... But mum has had a tougher life.
"To bring her with me and see her smile.
"I saw her (getting emotional), but I couldn't keep looking otherwise I would have got too emotional."
Dally M honour role
Player of the year: Nicho Hynes
Rookie: Jeremiah Nanai
Captain: Isaah Yeo
TEAM OF THE YEAR:
James Tedesco, Joseph Sua'ali'i, Joseph Manu, Valentine Holmes, Alex Johnston, Cameron Munster, Nicho Hynes, Joseph Tapine, Api Koroisau, Payne Haas, Viliame Kikau, Jeremiah Nanai, Isaah Yeo. Coach: Todd Payten.
Player of the year: Raecene McGregor
Rookie: Jesse Southwell
Captain: Isabelle Kelly
NRLW TEAM OF THE YEAR:
Sam Bremner, Teagan Berry, Isabeele Kelly, Jessica Sergis, Jaime Champan, Tarryn Aiken, Raecene McGregor, Caitlan Johnston, Keeley Davis, Millie Boyle, Keilee Joseph, Olivia Kernick, Simaima Taufa. Coach: John Strange.
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