Kiwi international Jason Taumalolo’s joint Dally M Medal win last night was both a statement and a breakthrough as he became the first power forward to receive the most prestigious individual NRL accolade since the award was first made in 1980.
The Dally M has routinely been awarded to the game’s so-called superstars, usually a player in the halves.
And sure enough the explosive Taumalolo even had to share the honour last night with, you guessed it, yet another halfback in Cooper Cronk.
Be that as it may, the North Queensland loose forward’s shared moment in the spotlight was a singular victory for the game’s big men. It backed up his outright triumph when his peers voted him the RLPA Players’ Champion on September 6.
It's also significant that Taumalolo is just the second New Zealander and the first in 24 years since Gary Freeman (1992) – yes, a halfback – to take the Dally M.
Before last night the Dally M Medal had been awarded 34 times since Robert (Rocky) Laurie, then with South Sydney, was named the first winner in 1980; the Dally M Awards weren’t held in 2003 and 1997.
Laurie was the first in a long line of halves to win followed by Terry Lamb, Greg Alexander, Peter Sterling (twice), Freeman, Ricky Stuart, Cliff Lyons (twice), Laurie Daley, Allan Langer, Trent Barrett, Preston Campbell (he was used in the halves when he won with Cronulla in 2001), Andrew Johns (three times), Matt Orford, Todd Carney, Cronk and the indomitable Johnathan Thurston (four times).
Now, counting Cronk’s success last night, it means halves have been feted 24 times. It has almost been a case of players not having a chance of winning unless they wear jerseys No 7 or No 6.
The only forwards previously honoured have been hookers Cameron Smith (2006) and Danny Buderus (2004), Cronulla’s ball-playing loose forward Gavin Miller (1988 and 1989) and Parramatta’s perpetual motion back rower Ray Price (1982).
Four fullbacks have won in Ben Barba, Billy Slater, Jarryd Hayne (twice) and Mick Potter (twice) while Steve Rogers (1982) is the only centre to win. No props, second rowers or wings have savoured success.
At last night's 2016 awards Taumalolo, the Dally M loose forward (or lock) of the year, was joined by fellow Kiwi Jesse Bromwich who was named the prop of the year while New Zealander Jordan Rapana was the wing of the year.
2016 DALLY M AWARDS
Dally M Player of the Year: Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm) and Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys)
Captain of the Year: Jarrod Croker (Canberra Raiders)
Coach of the Year: Ricky Stuart (Canberra Raiders)
Peter Moore Award for Rookie of the Year: Ashley Taylor (Gold Coast Titans)
Representative Player of the Year: Cameron Smith (Queensland/Storm)
Fullback of the Year: James Tedesco (Wests Tigers)
Wing of the Year: Josh Mansour (Penrith Panthers)
Centre of the Year: Joseph Leilua (Canberra Raiders)
Standoff of the Year: James Maloney (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
Halfback of the Year: Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm)
Loose Forward of the Year: Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys)
Second Rower of the Year: Matt Gillett (Brisbane Broncos)
Prop of the Year: Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm)
Hooker of the Year: Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm)
Top Points Scorer: Jarrod Croker (Canberra Raiders)
Top Try Scorer: Suliasi Vunivalu (Melbourne Storm)
Provan Summons People’s Choice Medal: Jarrod Croker (Canberra Raiders)
Holden Cup Player of the Year: Jayden Brailey (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
Female Player of the Year: Kezie Apps
Peter Frilingos Headline Moment: Anthony Milford (Brisbane Broncos)
Ken Stephen Medal: Joel Thompson (St George Illawarra Dragons)
DALLY MEDAL WINNERS 1980-2016
2016: Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm) and Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys)
2015: Johnathan Thurston (North Qld Cowboys)
2014: Johnathan Thurston (North Qld Cowboys) and Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta Eels)
2013: Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm)
2012: Ben Barba (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
2011: Billy Slater (Melbourne Storm)
2010: Todd Carney (Sydney Roosters)
2009: Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta Eels)
2008: Matt Orford (Manly Sea Eagles)
2007: Johnathan Thurston (North Qld Cowboys)
2006: Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm)
2005: Johnathan Thurston (North Qld Cowboys)
2004: Danny Buderus (Newcastle Knights)
2003: Not awarded
2002: Andrew Johns (Newcastle Knights)
2001: Preston Campbell (Cronulla Sharks)
2000: Trent Barrett (St George Illawarra Dragons)
1999: Andrew Johns (Newcastle Knights)
1998: Andrew Johns (Newcastle Knights)
1997: Not awarded
1996: Allan Langer (Brisbane Broncos)
1995: Laurie Daley (Canberra Raiders)
1994: Cliff Lyons (Manly Sea Eagles)
1993: Ricky Stuart (Canberra Raiders)
1992: Gary Freeman (Eastern Suburbs Roosters)
1991: Michael Potter (St George Dragons)
1990: Cliff Lyons (Manly Sea Eagles)
1989: Gavin Miller (Cronulla Sharks)
1988: Gavin Miller (Cronulla Sharks)
1987: Peter Sterling (Parramatta Eels)
1986: Peter Sterling (Parramatta Eels)
1985: Greg Alexander (Penrith Panthers)
1984: Michael Potter (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
1983: Terry Lamb (Western Suburbs Magpies)
1982: Ray Price (Parramatta Eels)
1981: Steve Rogers (Cronulla Sharks)
1980: Robert Laurie (South Sydney Rabbitohs)