The dust has barely settled on a controversial 2020 Dally M awards night, with Canberra's Jack Wighton a deserved winner of the prestigious gong after a standout season for the Raiders.
However, many fans are claiming "robbery" at the NRL’s night of nights, insisting that either Wighton shouldn't have won the award or should at least have shared it with another man.
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Wighton (26 votes) took home the Dally M after a dramatic final-round shootout with Clint Gutherson (25) and Nathan Cleary (24), edging the former by a point and the latter by two points in voting.
However, it was Parramatta Eels fullback Gutherson how fans claim was the hardest done by, after his final-round heroics against the Wests Tigers went unrewarded.
Gutherson was instrumental to the four-point win that saw the Eels seal a top-four finish, but he was completely overlooked when it came to the Dally M judging.
The 26-year-old didn't pick up a single point despite a stat sheet that included two try assists, a linebreak assist, two tackle busts and a try-saving tackle on Luke Garner in the dying stages that preserved Parramatta's win.
As this year's Dally M transpired, one point is all it would have taken for Gutherson to be sharing the game's highest individual honour with Wighton.
Instead, Eels teammates Nathan Brown (3) and Junior Paulo (2) got the votes for Parramatta, while Tigers halfback Luke Brooks took the final point in a losing side.
Fans were suitably outraged by the apparent final round snub, insisting that Gutherson at the very least deserved one vote - if not more.
Hello Police, I'd like to report a robbery.
Clint Gutherson got 2 try assists and a game winning try saver but received no Dally M points.
— Ron (@ronstradamus1) October 19, 2020
I do not understand how he didn't get a vote.....I'm so confused
— Alex Wallis (@AWally04) October 19, 2020
Even Luke Brooks got 1 point in that game. Gutho’s try saving tackle in the last minute ensured Eels 3rd spot in the ladder.
— Tanghod Pinoy (@pnoyaus) October 19, 2020
— Ricardo Ascenso (@Ricky_A1) October 19, 2020
Stop it Luke Brooks got a point in that round when Gutherson legit had a crucial try assist and try saving tackle in the dying minutes 😂 #dallym
— nate (@_nathancalderon) October 19, 2020
Gutho robbed 100% , 2 try assists and game winning try saving tackle but couldn't score a point. 😤
— Aalzen 🇦🇺🇺🇦🇩🇪 (@zenaal37) October 19, 2020
King Gutho robbed
— Kev (@kevboknows) October 19, 2020
Robbed of the Dally M player of the year! Should have been Gutho
— Sarah Solo (@SOLOSarah) October 19, 2020
Not staying Gutherson is the best player in the league, but him not getting a point vs the Tigers is farcical. The guy basically won the game for them #DallyM
— mamba 4 life 🐍🏆🐐 (@DMiddy78) October 19, 2020
Awards night marred by embarrassing leak
The result of the awards night was marred for the public with the winner mistakenly published by a media outlet hours before Wighton was crowned Dally M medallist.
Players' phones were confiscated during the virtual ceremony so it was not spoiled for the contenders and Wighton said he was genuinely shocked to receive the award.
"I'm absolutely shocked, the players I was sitting there with and it could have been anyone, so to receive this medal tonight in front of so many good players, I'm blown away," he said.
"I wrote myself off completely, 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. I'm so thankful.
"This is right up there, this is definitely up the top and it's something I'll never forget. I can't really get my head around it yet."
Grand finalists Penrith took home a slew of awards after their remarkable run to the season decider against the Storm.
Mastermind of 17-straight wins, Ivan Cleary was named coach of the year, while halfback Nathan Cleary, prop James Fisher-Harris, second-rower Viliame Kikau, lock Isaah Yeo and centre Stephen Crichton were all picked in the team of the year.
Warriors star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was named captain of the year, while his team was also given the Provan Summons Medal for spirit of the year.
Brisbane star Ali Brigginshaw earned her first Dally M as female player of the year heading into Sunday's grand final against the Sydney Roosters, while Wests Tigers hooker Harry Grant was named rookie of the year.
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