Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards has gone from a solid, reliable and underrated player to a Clive Churchill Medal winner – but he’s still remaining as humble as ever.
The 26-year-old cemented his legacy with a fantastic display in Sunday night’s 28-12 grand final win over Parramatta, running for 291 metres and producing three linebreak assists.
Edwards was rewarded with man of the match honours, following in the footsteps of teammate Nathan Cleary after his 2021 win.
Speaking to the media after the game, Edwards was quizzed on the award and immediately turned the attention away from himself.
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“It’s a bit surreal at the moment,” he said.
“It’s a credit to the rest of the team, they make my job incredibly easy. I’m lucky to be a part of this team.
“They are my brothers and I love going to work with them each week.
“It feels nice. It’s been a bit of a crazy year and it’s nice to be rewarded.”
Edwards has been a standout for the Panthers all season and finished in the top-five for the Dally M Medal, cementing himself as one of the game’s best fullbacks.
His work with ball in hand was vital for Penrith in the decider, but his cover tackle on Bailey Simonsson will be etched into highlight reels for years to come.
YOU’RE JOKING!!! 🤯🤯🤯
That’s a sensational tackle. Wow.
— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) October 2, 2022
After playing through a foot injury in the 2021 decider showed Edwards’ supreme toughness, his ability on the field is now beginning to shine through.
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary admitted it wasn’t a surprise to see the No.1 pull off the huge play, and paid tribute to the improvements in his game in recent years.
“He has always been good at organising our defence, but his actual try-saving and tackling has gone to a new level this year,” he said.
“We mentioned last year, that was perhaps the real making of him – to be able to go through what he did last year, it showed that much courage.
“Just to put his hand up and say “I’m playing” when we honestly didn’t think he would – if he can get through that, he can get through anything.
“It was a moment [the cover tackle] in the game when we were up 22-0 and they were starting to throw some good stuff at us. We just didn’t want to give them a sniff and old mate at the back here has been doing it all year.
“It was a great moment.”
Edwards has cemented his role in the Penrith side for years to come, as his combination with NSW halves Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai continues to flourish.
But could a potential spot in the Kangaroos’ World Cup squad await? We’ll have to wait and see.