It’s that time of year again, with the upcoming grand final this weekend, the NRL is hosting its Dally M awards to highlight both the best players over the course of the season, as well as individual moments of brilliance. But there’s one important award which even many rugby league fanatics won’t recognise, despite the fact that it is presented at the annual Dally M award ceremony – one of the biggest events in the rugby league calendar.
The award in question is the Ken Stephen medal – awarded to players who “will have consistently demonstrated their commitment to making a difference in their community and be seen as a role model in this area at their NRL club” Given the rough year rugby league has had, this award, and its yearly recipients, deserve some form of exposure. These are the kinds of rugby league players you want to be headline grabbers.
However, the reality for the Ken Stephen medal is quite the opposite. Strangely, the award is seemingly swept under the rug, as it receives barely any coverage throughout the rugby league world. Searching the Dally M awards 2015 wikipedia page all but one award given on the night is mentioned. But, I know, I know, it’s Wikipedia – anyone can create and edit those pages so it’s not truly accurate. Alright, fair point, but what about the Daily telegraph and Foxsports? Both these articles list every award given on the night, bar one – the Ken Stephen medal.
Now I know there’s not some grand Da Vinci code-esque conspiracy cover up going on here, but still, its absence in most media publications is upsetting. The Ken Stephen medal is an award which truly deserves to be more well known within rugby league. It may not highlight the greatest moments of the season or the most exciting athletes to watch, but it’s something that should be spoken of more often, because it truly does matter. The players who receive this award don’t do so for the attention, but it’s still important that we highlight the best of rugby league each year off the field as well as on it.
We look forward to tomorrow night, the 28th of September, to see who will be awarded the Ken Stephen medal for doing inspiring work within their communities and creating a better image for rugby league. The finalists by club are:
Darius Boyd – Brisbane Broncos
Sia Soliola – Canberra Raiders
Moses Mbye – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Paul Gallen – Cronulla Sharks
William Zillman – Gold Coast Titans
Brenton Lawrence – Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Nelson Asofa Solomona – Melbourne Storm
Trent Hodkinson – Newcastle Knights
John Asiata – North Queensland Cowboys
Tim Mannah – Parramatta Eels
Trent Merrin – Penrith Panthers
Joel Thompson – St George Illawarra Dragons
Kane Evans – Sydney Roosters
James Gavet – New Zealand Warriors
Dene Halatau – Wests Tigers
Image source: NRL