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Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

With only two rounds of Dally M voting left perhaps the best person to ask about who might win the 2019 award is the player who currently holds it – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

"I reckon it's a close race between Cameron Munster, Cameron Smith and James Tedesco," Tuivasa-Sheck told .

"They are the three who I think will be doing really well right now.

"But with Melbourne flying, being so on top of their game, does that work against the two Camerons?

"Storm set such a standard that Smith and Munster drive, will they take points off each other?

"Then there's James Tedesco over at the Roosters and he's killing it."

Voting went behind closed doors after round 12. Tuivasa-Sheck earned 14 points in the last nine rounds of 2018 to storm to the top of the table.

But even though he makes an average 206 metres a game, has made 13 line breaks in 21 games and an astonishing 117 tackle busts in 2019, he isn't putting his name forward in the race for 'Player of the Year' this season.

"I don't think so… there is too much talent floating around."

Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster flank Michael Morgan
Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster flank Michael Morgan ©NRL Photos

Tuivasa-Sheck wasn't in the top-10 after round 12 this year – he was in 17th spot on nine points. The Warriors were positioned in the top-eight on the ladder after three rounds but by round 12, they were well outside with only four wins from their opening 11 matches.

Tuivasa-Sheck isn't sure if a club's standing on the ladder has an adverse affect on an individual player's chances of grabbing Dally M points from judges.

But it's no surprise that Munster (14 points), Smith (12) and Tedesco (12) were in the top-five when voting went 'silent'. Storm and Roosters have reigned supreme at the top the table. 

The leader was Mitchell Pearce on 15 points. The Knights had overcome their five-match losing streak and were running hot in the Hunter on the back of six straight wins at the round-12 mark – Pearce collecting five 'man of the match' performances.

Since that euphoric time, the Knights have only enjoyed three wins, lost a class centre, and their head coach.

Tuivasa-Sheck says he doesn't watch a lot of games on television, unless it's his old club the Roosters where he enjoyed four seasons including the 2013 NRL premiership, where he played on the wing.

The other reason he watches the tri-colours is fullback James Tedesco.

"Roosters are my old team, full of some of my best mates, so I do watch them. And you can't miss Tedesco – he's beautiful to watch," the 26-year-old fellow fullback said.

"Since I constantly watch footy throughout the week, with video sessions and analysis stuff, I hardly watch the games at the weekends.

"But when the Roosters are playing I do follow the old boys. And Tedesco is my favourite player this year, no question."

Let's not forget Tuivasa-Sheck was also 2018 Fullback of the Year along with Player of the Year.

So what has the past year as reigning Dally M winner been like for Tuivasa-Sheck?

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke at 2018 Dally Ms
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke at 2018 Dally Ms ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

He says he's felt no extra expectation or pressure to live up to that moniker. His match stats say he's doing it anyway.

But two things stick out for him from the Dally M awards night last September.

There was the impromptu 'Haka' as Warriors teammates Issac Luke and Jazz Tevaga —  joined by Brisbane's Jamayne Isaako and Canberra's Jordan Rapana – paid him the ultimate compliment.

Mistress of Ceremonies, Yvonne Sampson from FoxSports put it best: "And that ladies and gentlemen is respect in rugby league."

RTS enjoys Haka from Kiwi team-mates

However, there was one other pang to Tuivasa-Sheck's heart.

"The thing that got me when I sat down that night, is that you look at the sheet and you go over the past winners and you see names like Cronk, Johns, Taumalolo and Thurston.

"And I thought 'I'm not quite up to that standard.' This list is for freakish players and I've never seen myself as part of that list – I still don't.

"That's what has been so crazy for me this year when I see the words put in front of my name," he said, referring to 'Dally M winner' as the preface for describing Tuivasa-Sheck.

"Whoever wins it next I'm sure will feel that too, unless it's Cameron Smith, because he is the man and he's got his name engraved a couple of times already.

"But Cameron Munster does freakish things to win lots of games; Tedesco is also way above most of us – they are the future of our game, so they deserve the Dally M."

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