Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
18 mins ago
You do get the impression that Craig Bellamy might not have even breathed half a sigh of relief when Billy Slater was rightly named the Dally M Player of the Year last night.
In the Wayne Bennett mould, Bellamy was probably not concerned his decision to drop Slater from the final game of the premiership season could have cost him the award. It's all about the team we are constantly told.
But the end result saw justice done...and the most consistent player in the game won the award.
Benji Marshall suffers a little when the Dally M awards are judged. He does not take part in Origin football, and while points are not awarded in the Dally M's, a strong showing in Origin matches must have some indirect impact on judges.
As an example, more than once Billy Slater has turned in an outstanding Origin performance and followed up a couple of days later with an equally stellar performance in a club match.
The Melbourne Storm dominated the major awards. Craig Bellamy was named coach of the year, Cameron Smith won captain of the year and representative player of the year while Cooper Cronk nabbed the half back of the year award.
Given the tumultuous 2010 season the Storm endured, the results for the 2011 premiership season justify major awards going to the club.
The rookie of the year award went to Daly Cherry-Evans. As I have reported before, even though he plays, and stars for the Manly Sea Eagles, he is a Maroon.
He has been the stand out new arrival in the 2011 season. In my view he was man of the match in the Sea Eagles loss to the Broncos last Sunday. He is destined for higher honours - even though he may have to wait a while given the half back talent the Maroons have.
I am not sure the Dally M's have the impact on the game, and on fans, that the awards for the games finest should have.
Television coverage is limited, and the Dally M's are essentially promoted by one newspaper.
And when you have multiple awards some of the impact of the player of the year award will inevitably de diminished.
The AFL persists with its Brownlow Medal - an award that is steeped in history.
We used to have the Rothmans Medal which was a prestige award - even though it was named after a tobacco product!
I don't see things changing back - but consideration should be given to making the major award a more stand out one.