It was a night of high hopes and even higher stakes at Sydney's Royal Randwick last night. The Dally M Awards were in full swing, and all eyes were on our very own Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson.
After a season that saw the Warriors defy expectations and cement themselves among the competition's top sides, Johnson was the hot favourite to snag this year's Dally M Medal - the award given to that season's top player.
Fans were buzzing with anticipation. “Shaun Johnson is going to win himself a Dally M. I’m gonna be so happy,” one hopeful fan wrote to X (formerly known as Twitter) before the awards kicked off.
Another said: “Shaun Johnson’s legacy ascends today."
After sitting comfortably in the lead from round 20, Johnson was pipped by just one point with Newcastle Knights star fullback Kalyn Ponga snatching the Dally M right out from under his nose.
Fans took to straight to social media to express their disbelief and frustration.
“I’m not sure how Shaun Johnson didn’t win,” wrote one confused fan.
Another passionately wrote: “Shaun Johnson absolutely robbed! Big fan of KP, but a player missing out a huge chunk of the season shouldn’t be awarded best player of the season. I think everyone can agree Shaun Johnson deserved that award. Played his heart out each game, ALL YEAR!”
“If this year doesn’t prove that the NRL should move to an NFL MVP voting system to determine the best player across the year, nothing will,” another suggested.
“They've stolen from him tonight,” said a fourth.
It wasn't all bad news, though!
While he may not have claimed the ultimate prize, he did win Halfback of the Year in the NRL's 2023 Team Of The Year, alongside his teammate Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Winger of the Year) and
Addin Fonua-Blake Fonua-Blake (Prop of the Year). And our very own Andrew Webster won coach of the year for his debut season with the Warriors.
So as we say 'laters' to this rollercoaster of a season, there's only one thing left for me to add...
Next year is OUR year! UP DA WAHS!