Panthers' Cleary gets Dally M leg up

Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary is favourite to be named Dally M winner this year.
Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary is favourite to be named Dally M winner this year.

Nathan Cleary's Dally M hopes have been handed a massive boost with the Penrith halfback not set to lose six points for an early season two-game NRL ban.

It had initially been thought Cleary would lose three points for each of the two matches he missed when banned for misleading the integrity unit over a quarantine breach.

However, the NRL has now confirmed that won't be the case with points deductions only relating to on-field matters of foul play.

"Consistent with previous seasons, players will only be deducted Dally M points for on-field suspensions handed down by the match review committee or judiciary," an NRL spokesman said.

Cleary would arguably have been the favourite to claim the award even with the six-point deduction factored in.

He was equal-fourth when voting went behind closed doors, but only two points off leader Harry Grant.

Cleary has not missed a game since then, with four of the five players either level or ahead of him having sat at least one in that time.

The Panthers No.7 has been in dominant form this year as his side remains undefeated since round six - with Cleary leading the NRL for try involvements, kick metres and 40-20s.

The NRL's Dally Ms will be held in grand final week, with a virtual component likely as the NRL consider whether players will be able to attend either in or out of bubbles.

Australian Associated Press