Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Front rower Aiden Tolman has capped off a big first season in blue and white by being named the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 2011 NRL Player of the Year at the Club's annual Presentation Night held on Wednesday at Doltone House, Jones Bay Wharf.
Tolman became the first to claim the Dr George Peponis Medal after being judged to have made the most outstanding on field contribution to the Bulldogs over the course of the NRL season by his team mates and coaching staff.
From this year onward, all awards handed out at the Bulldogs Presentation night will bear the names of Club Legends, with Peponis, Terry Lamb (NSW Cup Player of the Year), Hazem El Masri (Toyota Cup Player of the Year), Steve Mortimer (Rookie of the Year), and Les Johns (Club Man of the Year) all being recognised for their contributions to the Club.
22 year old Tolman, who joined the Club in 2011 from the Melbourne Storm, was a standout in each of the 22 games he played this season, starting every game he featured in.
Tolman's reputation for toughness and endurance shone through during a season in which he played 18 games of 50 minutes plus, with two of those - round one against the Wests Tigers and round seven against South Sydney - clocking in at 71 and 72 minutes apiece.
His consistency and effort over the course of the season sees him rated alongside the hardest working props in the game - the likes of Melbourne's Adam Blair, Gold Coast's Luke Bailey and Cronulla's Luke Douglas.
Trent Cutler was crowned the winner of the Terry Lamb Medal for NSW Cup player of the year, completing a season in which he captained the Bulldogs to a third straight title at that level.
2011 was also notable for the versatile backline player, who made his NRL comeback after an absence of 1,471 days, as well as playing his 200th game for the Club.
Junior Kangaroo Dale Finucane has taken out the Hazem El Masri medal as the Bulldogs Toyota Cup player of the year, bringing down the curtain on two and a half seasons in the national youth competition.
Bega product Finucane captained the side with distinction in 2011, playing every game during a year that saw the young Bulldogs reach the Grand Final qualifier despite a crippling injury toll that saw them use 39 players throughout the season.
Prop Sam Kasiano was recognised for a breakout season in the NRL by taking out the Steve Mortimer Medal as the Bulldogs Rookie of the Year.
Selected to make his NRL debut against the Wests Tigers in round one, Kasiano would eventually play all but five games for the year - including a run of 15 straight to finish off the season.
And Bulldogs 2011 Ken Stephen Medal nominee Dene Halatau finished with two awards for the evening, adding the Les Johns Medal for Club Man of the Year to the Peter Warren Medal he claimed for his work for community causes.
The Club Man of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards are decided upon by a voting panel that includes Chief Executive Officer Todd Greenberg, senior players and members of the Bulldogs coaching staff.
The Presentation night also represented a farewell of sorts to departing players, as well as those who have achieved significant milestones during season 2011.
Retiring Bulldogs captain Andrew Ryan was singled out for special praise, with Camp Quality Chief Executive Simon Rountree presenting