Champion North Queensland Toyota Cowboy Johnathan Thurston tonight became only the second player in rugby league history to claim three Dally M medals.
However after being the outright winner in 2005 and 2007, JT this time had to share the medal with his Kangaroos teammate, Parramatta’s Jarryd Hayne, after they both finished on 32 points following a thrilling end to the countdown of votes at Sydney’s Star City casino.
JT led by one point entering round 26 – and added to his total with one point from the win against Manly at 1300SMILES Stadium – but he was caught by Hayne who earned two points in the Eels’ loss to Canberra.
It was the first tie in the 34-year history of the NRL’s leading individual honour with the Cowboys co-captain joining Newcastle’s Andrew Johns, rugby league’s eighth Immortal, as a three-time medal winner.
On a spectacular night for Thurston, he won the Provan Summons Medal, voted by the rugby league public, for the first time, was named Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year and picked up his award as the NRL’s top points scorer in 2014.
Johnathan Thurston, winner of the 2014 Provan Summons Medal, with Arthur Summons
Earlier this month, he won the RLPA Players’ Player award for the third time.
In the Dally M count, JT started the night on 19 votes, tied with Brisbane’s Ben Hunt, after the opening 16 rounds.
Hunt grabbed the outright lead by one, on 22, after 19 rounds with Thurston and Sam Burgess tied for second after the Cowboys halfback picked up two points from the round 19 win against the Cronulla Sharks at Remondis Stadium.
Thurston jumped to first with a man-of-the-match performance against the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in round 20 and backed it up with another two points a week later against the Titans.
However he came up empty from the club record 64-6 thrashing of Wests Tigers in round 22 to hand top spot over to a surging Jarryd Hayne.
JT on the red carpet with fiancee Samantha Lynch
The deficit slipped to three points after the Cowboys’ one-point loss to Penrith but he pulled back a couple with an outstanding man-of-the match showing against the Rabbitohs in round 24.
Lurking was St George Illawarra’s Gareth Widdop who was another consistent vote-getter to move to third outright.
With two points from the golden point win against Cronulla, Thurston went one in front of Hayne with an amazing five players still a chance of an outright or shared victory at the start of round 26.
Hayne gained two in the Eels’ final-round loss to Parramatta and later that day Thurston was given one by the judge appointed to the North Queensland-Manly game, won convincingly by the Cowboys with Robert Lui starring.
JT and Matt Scott were finalists in the Captain of the Year award won by Manly’s Jamie Lyon.
Other award winners included Wests Tigers’ Luke Brooks (Rookie of the Year), Penrith coach Ivan Cleary (Coach of the Year), Parramatta’s Jarryd Hayne (Representative Player of the Year) and Titan Kane Elgey (NYC Player of the Year).