The finals may not have even started yet, but already the debate over who might win the man of the match award in the grand final – more commonly known as the Clive Churchill Medal – has begun.
While it requires tipping the grand final teams before you can work out the award, we are getting to the point in the season where it’s starting to become easier to tip those sides.
The Penrith Panthers will need something of a calamity to not be there given how far ahead of the competition they have been. Maybe the only concern relates to their struggles with injury and suspension at the back end of the season, with Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai both on the sidelines.
Their opponents in the grand final are far less clear, but the likes of the Sydney Roosters, North Queensland Cowboys and Melbourne Storm all seem to be the realistic options.
Early betting on the Clive Churchill Medal is an intriguing prospect, and you can used the bet365 bonus for maximum output.
Here are the top options.
Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
Cleary might be missing the final five weeks of the regular season, but he will be back in time for the finals and that in itself is a dangerous consideration for every team the likely minor premiers will come up against.
A fully rested Cleary played excellently during last finals after an injury post Origin, and while his first game back being Week 1 of the finals is hardly ideal, it’s hard to argue exactly how good he is, and how much of an influence he has on the Panthers.
Provided they make the final and win it as expected, Cleary will be in the shouting.
Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm)
Munster is an Origin star, a Kangaroos star, can play in two positions and is the most highly-chased signature for 2024 when he is next able to change clubs.
The star five-eighth led Queensland to the Origin shield, and while Ryan Papenhuyzen is injured and Melbourne’s form has been inconsistent at best, Munster continues to churn out impressive performance after impressive performance.
James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters)
The man they call ‘Teddy’ just continues to go from strength to strength.
He had a slightly slow start to the season, but that was on the back of a pre-season where he didn’t start running until weeks out from the season. His form has recovered, and so have the Roosters.
They might be in the bottom part of the top eight, but a danger to every side above them they are, and most of that is down to the form of Tedesco.
Scott Drinkwater (North Queensland Cowboys)
The North Queensland Cowboys have been undoubtedly this season’s surprise packets, and Drinkwater’s form has been a big part of that.
After a slow start to the season, he was called upon to replace the injured Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and while the Queensland representative has since returned, Drinkwater made himself undroppable.
If the Cowboys win the competition, Drinkwater will be their best.
Isaah Yeo (Penrith Panthers)
The Panthers spine might get all the recognition, but if a forward was likely to win this award from anywhere in the top eight, Yeo would be a pretty strong candidate.
A Dally M leader early in the season, the State of Origin representative is also mightily important in that arena and will likely be one of the key men for the Panthers during the premiership push for the second year in a row.