‘It would be a great moment’: Trbojevic fears Cleary in Dally M race Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content

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By Christian Nicolussi

Manly megastar Tom Trbojevic’s magnificent campaign has come to an end – but his incredible season will be celebrated over the next two days, starting with the Sea Eagles’ own top prize, the Roy Bull Award, and followed by Monday’s Dally Ms.

The gun No.1 was kept quiet against the Rabbitohs during Friday’s 36-16 preliminary-final loss, but he rightfully pointed out it was impossible for him or any player to put a proper stamp on the game with so much dropped ball. It was the same issue that hurt the Sea Eagles against Melbourne a fortnight earlier.

Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans, South Sydney’s Cody Walker, Penrith’s Nathan Cleary and Sydney Roosters fullback James Tedesco joined Trbojevic are the other conetneders on the Dally M short-list – but Trbojevic is seen by many as the unbackable favourite.

Even Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler, who tried his best not to heap any extra praise on his fullback for most of the year, said his pin-up deserved top billing.

“I haven’t had to rap him, his performances speak for themselves, and for what he has done, how he has done it and the way he has done it, he deserves the Dally M, there’s no doubt about it,” Hasler said.

Trbojevic, who was backing Cleary to get the nod after last year’s drama, told The Sun-Herald: “It’s one of the highest individual accolades in our game, so it would be special to win.

Putting the foot down against South Sydney on Friday night.

Putting the foot down against South Sydney on Friday night.Credit:Getty Images

“We don’t play the game for them, but if you look at the list of people who have won Dally Ms, only two other Manly players have won it, including Matty Orford in 2008. Cliffy [Lyons] also won a couple of them. I used to watch the awards as a kid.

“There were a few nice moments this year. My comeback game in Mudgee was pretty special. And my 100th game at Brookie – I haven’t played at Brookie too much, it was only my second game there in two years – in front of a lot of family and friends who have been a big part of my life, that was also special. Monday night would be a great moment. I’ll go there and see what happens.”

What would make Trbojevic’s Dally M triumph extra special is the fact he missed the opening five rounds due to a hamstring injury. He also broke Phil Blake’s season try-scoring record at Manly with his 28th four-pointer in the final minutes against South Sydney.

Cleary was in the box seat for the Dally M before he missed more than a month because of a shoulder injury late in the season, while Walker was in a team that had several teammates vying for Dally M votes.

Trbojevic was kept quiet against Souths, just as he was against Melbourne a fortnight earlier, but he pointed out no player would have left their mark with so much dropped ball. Hasler agreed with that very point.

“We dropped too much footy, they were down our end too much, and if you give a side like Souths that much ball they’ll find a way to score, and they did,” Trbojevic said.

“We just didn’t have the ball in the right areas. When we did we played some alright footy. We got done for obstruction with the first try, then I dropped the ball over the line for the second, but if we score both of those, it’s a completely different ball game.

“But having said all of that, Souths were too good for us. They were good at keeping possession and keeping us down our end.”

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