Nicho Hynes cemented himself as rugby league’s new poster boy on Wednesday night – and there perhaps isn’t a better man to hold that title.
The 26-year-old capped off a stellar season by winning the Dally M Medal, breaking the record for the highest vote tally in the award’s history with 38.
Hynes finished well ahead of James Tedesco and Ben Hunt, with the latter heading into the night as the favourite for the top prize.
Cronulla’s marquee man also claimed the Provan-Summons Medal, Halfback of the Year and was named as a finalist for the Ken Stephen Medal for his work in the community.
Hynes has emerged as one of the most beloved figures in the game in the past few years, with his slow rise through the ranks and personal struggles an endearing story for rugby league fans.
The Central Coast product is an advocate for mental health awareness and wowed fans throughout the year with his touching message of support for Paul Green’s family after his tragic passing, as well as a message to his close friend Aaron Booth after a serious knee injury.
Hynes’ clean-cut image, classy on-field play and good looks make him a dream for the game’s promoters, and his humble acceptance speech after winning the Dally M was further proof.
“I can’t believe it to be honest…I came here not very confident…I thought Benny Hunt was taking it out for sure,” he said.
“I just came here tonight extremely grateful to be here surrounded by great players.
“Five years ago, I was sitting at home watching this and I was only dreaming about being here. I didn’t think I would ever be here – I just came her expecting to have a good night and catch up with some old friends.
“I’ve got so many people to thank – do you want to ask me another question or do I just keep going?
Hynes has done it! It’s been an absolutely sensational year for Nicho. 👊
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) September 28, 2022
“It’s up there – I’d rather be playing in a grand final, but I guess this is the next best thing. you don’t really play for the individual awards, but it’s an honour.
“I got to do it with my mum tonight, who means the absolute world to me, and I can’t thank her enough.”
Hynes finished the year with six tries, 21 forced dropouts, 21 try assists and 117 run metres per game, helping the Sharks to a top-four finish.
The playmaker will be in the running for the Ken Stephen Medal for Man of the Year at Sunday night’s grand final, and implored today’s players to be role models for future generations.
“I didn’t walk the easiest journey to get here and had some tough challenges growing up,” he said.
“Now I’m in a privileged position to give back and hopefully influence some people who have been in my position, who are walking a tough journey right now, to hopefully inspire them to be here, where we’re all standing today.
“That’s our main goal, isn’t it? To be role models for the next generation. There’s going to be one day, we’re going to be retired and the next generation is going to come through.
“Hopefully we can help pave the way for those guys and they can be standing here one day as well.”