Thurston edges Farah for Dally M glory - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thurston edges Farah for Dally M glory

By Todd Balym 05/09/2007 05:46:45 AM Comments (0)

Captaincy has certainly changed Johnathan Thurston and on Tuesday night it helped earn him a second Dally M Medal in three years.

Thurston produced an amazing finish to the NRL season, polling 13 votes in the final five rounds to overtake Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah in the last fixture to win the player of the year award.

Thurston trailed Farah by two votes heading into the last round but produced a man of the match performance in the 38-32 win over the Bulldogs to take his second medal after also claiming the coveted award in 2005.

Amazingly, Thurston was not supposed to play against the Dogs because coach Graham Murray had offered the Australian Test halfback the chance to sit out the clash as the result could not affect the Cowboys' third place finish on the NRL table.

Thurston, having gained club captaincy earlier in the year, refused the offer, wanting to help club stalwart Paul Bowman celebrate his 200th NRL game.

"It was a big occasion for the Cowboys, it was Paul Bowman's 200th game. It was something I wanted to be part of," said Thurston of the decision to play the match which ultimately got him over the line for the medal.

"They asked me if I wanted to be rested but I said no."

Thurston starred against his former club in the final round but with his side leading 38-10 he was dragged from the field with his side eventually prevailing 38-32 in a tense finish.

Thurston said he remembers sitting on the sideline wondering whether being benched would cost him this individual glory.

"When I got pulled off that went through my mind and in the end I thought maybe it would have hurt me a little bit," said Thurston.

"I thought I might have got two points and that would have resulted in a tie but in the end I got three and I'm pretty happy."

Queensland players dominated the awards, claiming nine of the fourteen prizes on offer, while the Melbourne Storm's collection of four awards was the most by any club.

Melbourne mentor Craig Bellamy claimed his second successive coach of the year gong as part of the Storm sweep.

The first coach to win the award in consecutive years, Bellamy finished ahead of Manly's Des Hasler, South Sydney's Jason Taylor and Gold Coast's John Cartwright after leading the Storm to back-to-back minor premierships.

Bellamy had ushered 18-year-old outside back Israel Folau into the Storm team this year and got the ultimate acknowledgment for the move when he was named Dally M Rookie of the Year.

Winger/centre Folau set an impressive record for the minor premiers in 2007, scoring a club record 21 tries to finish the season as the NRL's equal leading try-scorer with North Queensland dynamo Matt Bowen.

Folau was not expected to make his NRL debut until later this year but his irresistible form saw the talented teen burst into the star-studded Melbourne backline, where he remained all year as the only Storm player to play in every NRL game.

"It's been hard work this year," Folau said.

"I'm just happy to be playing in the first grade squad."

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