NRL defends Dally M anonymity after voting puzzlers

Scott Bailey |

The NRL’s Graham Annesley says it’s important that Dally M voters remain anonymous.
The NRL’s Graham Annesley says it’s important that Dally M voters remain anonymous.

The NRL has defended the decision to keep Dally M judges anonymous after Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow’s opening-round point headlined a number of puzzling votes.

Tabuai-Fidow was handed one Dally M point on Sunday, despite being among the worst players on field in the Dolphins’ 43-18 loss to North Queensland.

On a difficult afternoon, the Dolphins fullback made two errors and inexplicably kicked a loose ball back at the Cowboys for them to score.

He also fell for a dummy for the Cowboys’ first try, and missed a tackle on Jeremiah Nanai for North Queensland’s second.

The Queensland State of Origin representative had one highlights play late, making a break on a kick return before Jack Bostock scored for the Dolphins.

The NRL opted to make judged anonymous last season in an overhaul of the Dally M system for integrity purposes, with two judges appointed to each game now.

Under the system, each judge awards a 3-2-1, with the points combined and a maximum of six points therefore available to one player.

“They are all high-profile former players, and it shouldn’t matter who they are,” NRL head of football Graham Annesley said.

“They’ve got a job to select players who are their peers because they’ve done exactly what these players have done.

“Across the course of the season, the players will be judged by many of these judges, and it’s not like we’ve got these judges doing the same teams every week.

“It’s about the credibility and the integrity of the process, so it shouldn’t matter who is doing the selections as long as they’re people who are qualified to do it.”

Adam Reynolds received one point in Brisbane’s 20-10 loss to the Sydney Roosters in Las Vegas, while Joey Manu was given none despite scoring one try and setting up another for the winners.

Cronulla playmaker Nicho Hynes’s perfect six points in their win over the Warriors also raised some eyebrows.

“It’s a season-long competition, and people will agree or disagree (with the votes),” Annesley said. 

“It happens publicly for the first half of the year and then it goes behind closed doors.

“That’s been the process for recent seasons, and it’s the process again. It’s a matter of opinion.”

Meanwhile, Annesley conceded he did not believe the Cowboys should have been awarded a second-half penalty try in Sunday’s win, but said it was a matter of opinion for bunker officials.

While he said Jack Bostock had obstructed Zac Laybutt in the in-goal, he did not believe it was a try-scoring situation as the ball bounced away from Laybutt.

Annesley also believed a try should have been awarded to Kyle Feldt late, with the bunker ruling the Cowboys winger had dropped the ball in putting it down.

But the NRL’s football boss defended a decision to deny Penrith a try for an obstruction in Friday night’s loss to Melbourne, labelling it a “black-and-white” call.