Trbojevic on verge of history with Dally M

Manly's Tom Trbojevic is tipped to pip Nathan Cleary for this year's Dally M medal.
Manly's Tom Trbojevic is tipped to pip Nathan Cleary for this year's Dally M medal.

Tom Trbojevic's magnificent 2021 season could be immortalised as the greatest in half-a-century of rugby league, with a maiden Dally M beckoning for the Manly star on Monday night.

Trbojevic will go into the final countdown as favourite to claim his first major gong, in what shapes as a three-horse race with Nathan Cleary and Cody Walker.

With votes for the final six rounds to be unveiled, Trbojevic is on 22 points and just one behind Penrith's Cleary with South Sydney's Walker on 17 points.

The Manly No.1 has a game in hand on Cleary, who missed two matches on the way home while Walker and Trbojevic both missed one.

In the five games remaining in the voting for Trbojevic, Manly won four of them with the gun fullback nabbing 11 tries which included three hat-tricks.

Amazingly, Trbojevic played just 15 of a possible 24 games in 2021.

As things stand, Steve Morris has played the least number of game in a campaign of any Dally M or Rothmans Medal winner in the past 50 years, with 16 of a possible 22 in his rookie 1979 season for St George.

In votes revealed so far, Trbojevic has picked up 22 of a possible 30 points available to him.

Johnathan Thurston's record tally of 36 points cames from 22 games in 2007.

Cleary's figures are almost just as impressive as those of Trbojevic.

If he was to claim the major award, he would do so from just 16 regular season games and equal the feat of Morris.

The Panthers halfback did not lose a game all regular season and became the first man in the NRL-era to win 18 straight at the start of a year when including his State of Origin victories for NSW.

A medal win would come after Jack Wighton was a shock winner over Cleary last season.

"Fingers crossed, it would be nice if he jagged it," his Penrith co-captain Isaah Yeo said.

"I thought he was very unlucky last year and he would be very unlucky this year if he got pipped again because of the shoulder.

"Our group certainly believe he is the best in the competition."

Meanwhile, Walker enjoyed a stunning end to the season with 12 try-assists, but the South Sydney five-eighth would be hard pressed to make up enough points on Trbojevic and Cleary.

DALLY M CONTENDERS' FINAL SIX ROUNDS

Nathan Cleary (23 points)

Played: 4

Won: 4

Tries: 2

Try-assists: 5

Tom Trobojevic (22 points)

Played 5:

Won: 4

Tries: 10

Try-assists: 11

Cody Walker (17 points)

Played: 5

Won: 4

Tries: 1

Try-assists: 12

Australian Associated Press