Dally M Team of the Year: The statistics behind the selections

Picking a team of the year is fraught with danger. The maths never seems to add up as there are inevitably far too many players to fit into the few select positions; with fans adamant a certain player should have claimed enough votes to get a spot in the team.

This year it was no different with the favourite for the Dally M Medal missing out completely, while a changing of the guard saw two teenagers announce themselves as future superstars of the competition.

Fullback: Teddy reigns supreme yet again

There can be an argument made for Dylan Edwards’ inclusion in the Team of the Year, but in truth James Tedesco more than earned his spot at fullback.

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He finished second in the overall vote count after getting 33 votes which would have seen him claim the Dally M Medal in pretty much every year of the last decade. 

“I reckon when State of Origin started, he just went mental from there,” Cameron Smith said on SEN’s The Captain’s Run.

“He was everywhere for the Roosters. He was playing not only as a fullback. He was playing as a front rower and a halfback. He was taking hit-ups, one-off carries, playing as a link man- just fantastic.”

According to Fox Sports Lab, Edwards carried the ball over 50 times more than Tedesco which gave him a slight edge in total metres made. He was also stronger in defence and made just 19 errors all season compared to Tedesco’s 22.

However, Teddy scored four more tries than the Penrith No.1 and provided five more assists, while he made six more linebreaks and had over 40 more tackle busts than his closest challenger to the throne.

Wing: Johnston’s try-scoring feats rewarded while Sydney gun jumps ahead of the queue

Alex Johnston scored 30 tries for the second-straight season and collected the Ken Irvine Medal as the league’s top-scorer yet again.

During an incredible campaign, the Rabbitohs flyer reeled in a number of legends to entrench himself inside the top ten for all-time try-scorers. Johnston deserved his spot in the Team of the Year.

On the other hand, Joseph Suaalii’s inclusion may be questioned. Although there is no doubt, he put his name up in lights this year with his freakish leaps and incredible carries out of yardage.

Suaalii scored 15 tries, while racking up 2,475 running metres to go along with 13 linebreaks and 62 tackle busts.

Those run metres pale in comparison to the experienced wingers in the game though, with the likes of Corey Oates, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Daniel Tupou and Brian To’o all cracking well over the 3,000m mark.

Oates, in particular, can consider himself hard done by after notching 20 tries to go with his impressive work-rate.

Meanwhile, Taylan May featured in more games, scored more tries, provided more assists, ran for more metres and made more linebreaks and tackle busts, while making fewer errors than his Sydney counterpart.

Centre: Manu and Holmes dominate in the centres

There can be no doubt that this year Joey Manu and Valentine Holmes were the two best centres in the competition.

Holmes was a big reason for the Cowboys’ rise up the ladder, finishing as the game’s top point scorer with 244.

Manu picked up where he left off in 2021, becoming one of the best players in the game. He was deadly with the ball in hand, regardless of where he played for the Roosters, be it on the wing, in the centres, at fullback or in the halves.

Five-eighth: Munster on a mission

Cameron Munster, like his team, started the season on fire with the five-eighth failing to score or assist in just one match in the opening ten rounds, which was a 44-0 battering of the Bulldogs in week four.

The 28-year-old was incredibly consistent all year and was a standout for Melbourne on his way to claiming a career-best 11 tries and 16 assists.

Dylan Brown was his closest competitor at five-eighth for this award, with the Parramatta playmaker enjoying his best campaign to date.  

The Kiwi international laid on 19 assists as his partnership with Mitch Moses proved deadly to opposition defences.

He doesn’t possess the same kind of running and offloading ability as Munster does just yet, but Brown’s ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck is already apparent. 

MORE: Parramatta have the tools required to hurt Penrith but will they be able to use them? 

Halfback: Hynes collects the Dally M in his first year at halfback

“To be fair, I’m not surprised or shocked that he’s played that well,” Smith said of his former Melbourne teammate on SEN

“Probably the thing that’s snuck up on me a little bit is how quickly he’s made that transition as a key player.

“That transition from being that second or third-string player to come in – with not a lot of pressure on him – and perform as that guy who filled the void…to then take the No.7 jersey with a new coach and a new club and take them where he did- that’s unbelievable.”

Nicho Hynes claimed a record-breaking 38 votes on his way to his first Dally M Medal, as a halfback for Cronulla.

Ben Hunt was the favourite to claim the Dally M heading into the night, but no one could begrudge Hynes from scooping up the acclaim as he became the new poster boy of the NRL.

Prop: Tapine unrivalled, while an Eel may be unlucky to miss out

Joe Tapine was the best prop this year, carving up defences while registering more post-contact metres than anyone else. It wasn’t just his knack for chewing through yardage though, as his ability to offload and stand in the tackle to generate quick play-the-balls also made him a catalyst in attack.

Payne Haas was a surprise selection for some, with the big Brisbane forward struggling to replicate his form of the past few years. 

Regardless, the New South Wales forward still cracked 3,000 running metres while he was as dependable as ever in defence missing just 19 tackles all season.

Although Reagan Campbell-Gillard does have a claim at being the second best forward in the game in 2022. He played more matches and racked up more time out on the field where his barnstorming carries allowed him to make over 600m more than Haas, while also notching better attacking stats with tries and linebreaks in his favour. 

Hooker: Koroisau beats Grant to the punch

Api Koroisau became the third Penrith player voted into the Team of the Year, with his inclusion perhaps the most contentious.

His impact out of dummy-half can’t really be measured in statistics with his ability to manipulate the markers around the ruck and control the tempo of a game never showing up in any quantifiable data.

On the other hand, Harry Grant pops up everywhere when it comes to the attack. The Melbourne No.9’s 17 try assists was more than any other hooker, while only Damien Cook and Reed Mahoney scored more than his seven tries.

MORE: ‘Parramatta will be back where they belong’: Eels’ chief confident ahead of Penrith clash

No other player matched Grant in the running stakes, with his 180 scoots out of dummy-half a league-high. He made almost double the amount of run metres Koroisau did. 

Second-row: Rookie of the Year and Kikau prevail in stacked position

There are plenty of second rowers in the comp who had amazing years. Shaun Lane’s form in the back half of the campaign has catapulted him into contention for a Kangaroos jersey, while his Parramatta teammate Isaiah Papali’i was as consistent as ever. Both men could easily have made the Team of the Year.

Yet Jeremiah Nanai produced an all-time season finishing with 17 tries that made him the most dangerous edge forward in the comp as he was crowned the Rookie of the Year.

Meanwhile, Viliame Kikau continued to terrorise the league with his mixture of power running, ability to pick a pass and aggression in the tackle making him a force to be reckoned with. His 16 linebreak assists made him the most creative player in his position. 

Lock: Yeo claims Captain of the Year honours as well as a place in the Team of the Year

Realistically, there was only one man who could challenge Isaah Yeo for the lock position and that was Cam Murray. Both No.13’s are vital, with their ability to link the attack granting freedom to their respective playmakers.

They finished with almost identical stats, with these two NSW representatives looking set to battle it out for years to come for the right to be called the game’s best lock. Yeo won bragging rights this season, but you wouldn’t back against the Souths captain coming back better than ever in 2023.

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