Even though the award has been in existence since 1979, it was not until 1998 that the Dally M Medal would recognise the standout player in the league each year.
Over that time, there has been some exceptional talent that has missed out on the award, so we have taken a look at 13 players who fell just short in their search for the award.
Note: we have only considered those who have retired in this list – but we have included some who failed to win the Rothmans Medal, which was awarded to the best player in the NSWRL and the Brisbane Rugby League competitions from 1968-97.
It has been said time and time again that Burgess stands as one of the best – if not – the best British import to grace Australian rugby league.
The bulldozing forward was always in the thick of the action and was a massive impact player for South Sydney. In 2014, Burgess went down in rugby league folklore after winning the Dally M Lock of the Year and the Clive Churchill Medal for his inspirational Grand Final display, but the league’s top individual prize always escaped him.
During the early 2000s, there were not many better full-backs in the league than the former Roosters man.
In more than 300 first-grade games, the 2005 Golden Boot winner appeared in six NRL Grand Finals and was voted into Sydney’s “Centurions” squad back in 2007 but the Dally M never made it on to his standout CV.
Your eyes are not deceiving you here. Yes, the Australian legend never managed to win the NRL’s top individual accolade during his career.
In a glittering 16-year career at club, representative and international level, Lockyer won everything there was to win and it is amazing to think that the award is missing off such a standout resume.
Since 1998, not a single front-rower has ever laid claim to the medal but if one was to win then it could have certainly been this man.
Over the course of his legendary career, Civoniceva was a leader among men as well as being a driving force in the Broncos’ forward pack over the course of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
For many years, Jones was the heart and soul of the Warriors and throughout his career he was certainly unlucky to never come away with an NRL Grand Final win to his name as well.
During the early 2000s, he was one of the best half-backs in the league and even claimed the Golden Boot in 2002. However, his quest for the Dally M Medal would always come up short as he was unfortunate to playing in a league that at the time had a certain Andrew Johns at the height of his powers.
The Parramatta stalwart was the true definition of a workhorse during his career.
Although he was never the flashiest, he was as tough and as courageous as they come and was nothing short of a tackling machine for the Eels, New South Wales and Australia. Between 2000-06, Hindmarsh won the Dally M Second Rower of The Year on five occasions as well as being a true fan’s favourite but his efforts were never recognised when it came to the medal itself.
Just like Lockyer, it is remarkable to think that a player who has such an extensive list of personal and team accolades like GI does has never won the Dally M.
The former Melbourne and South Sydney star has Dally M awards in two different positions, a Golden Boot to his name alongside several other individual prizes but he is missing the medal.
There is no question the Immortal is one of the rugby league greats but, unbelievably, the title of Australian rugby league’s Player of The Year was something that never came to pass.
However, the former Balmain and Eastern Suburbs star was a player who redefined the prop forward position as we know it today and he went on to become an inspiring figure both on and off the field.
Another player you would have just assumed had won either the Rothmans or Dally M Medal at least once in his remarkable career would be Meninga.
During the late 1980s and 1990s, there were not many players as dominant as the powerful Australian in the centre position, with his sheer power making him a difficult entity to stop. The Canberra and Kangaroos legend was the full package on the field and possessed all the size, strength and flair to go on to become an Immortal in his own right.
The emperor of Lang Park is an Australian Rugby League Hall of Famer, an Immortal and is another player on this list who is highly regarded as one of the greatest players the sport has seen.
The former Wynnum-Manly and Brisbane five-eighth was just magical to watch in his career and was also one of the best players to ever don the Maroons jersey. But even with so many personal accomplishments to his name, he was never crowned with the league’s top individual honour.
It gets even more unbelievable when you realise that the Cronulla legend makes the list.
Throughout his career, Ettingshausen was a consistent and versatile presence for the Sharks, New South Wales and Australia and, to this day, he stands as the fourth highest try scorer in Australian first-grade history with 165.
Alongside Civoniceva, Webcke formed one of the most dominant front-row tandems ever seen in the league.
The former Brisbane and Queensland star’s tenacity and hard running made him a nightmare for opposition defences and even though not one prop forward has ever won the Dally M Medal throughout the NRL era, it could have been him and not many would’ve argued against that.
The former Parramatta star was a born match winner and formed an electric halves partnership with Peter Sterling in the Eels side that went on to win four league titles in the 1980s.
In two of those Grand Final wins, Kenny was the best player on the pitch and was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal in both the 1981 and 1982 editions. In 1985, he even secured the Golden Boot award after an outstanding spell with Wigan but despite his coolness under pressure in the big moments, Kenny never claimed either medal.
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