2019 Meninga Medal Preview

The Meninga Medal Presentation Night takes place tonight as the Canberra Raiders Player of the Year is crowned.

Keep up to date with all the events and award winners HERE live from 7pm tonight.

With so many outstanding performers across the 2019 season, we preview three of the main award categories.

Rookie of the Year Contenders

The Canberra Raiders have had four players make their First Grade debut this season, while a number of other players have debuted for the club.

The Rookie of the Year is chosen by the Canberra Raiders coaching staff, with players who have previously played in the NRL or Super League are not eligible for the award. This means the likes of John Bateman, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Ryan Sutton, JJ Collins and Tom Starling are not eligible.

Bailey Simonsson

After joining the club on a train and trial deal early in pre-season, Bailey Simonsson has had a rapid rise through to ranks to secure a contract in the Raiders Top 30 squad and make his debut in Round One against the Gold Coast Titans.

The winger has gone on to make 19 appearances for the club this season, scoring eight tries and averaging close to 130 running metres each game.

Having played the majority of the season on the wing, Simonsson was given the chance to play fullback in the final game of the regular season and has also been used as an impact player from the bench.

Rising star Simonsson's journey from rugby to Raiders

Corey Horsburgh

The young Queenslander was given a chance in the pre-season trials and took it with both hands as he forced his way into the 17 to make his debut in Round One.

Horsburgh has become a mainstay in the Raiders pack and has seen his minutes increase across the course of the season.

An aggressive lock by trade, Horsburgh has impressed with his ability to ball play and offload and has quickly become a fan favourite.

Hudson Young

Having played Jersey Flegg last season for Mounties (the Raider’s affiliate club), Hudson Young had his chance to debut from the bench in Round Three against the Newcastle Knights after an injury to Joe Tapine.

An injury to John Bateman in Round Eight against the Panthers saw Young elevated to the starting side as he played close to 80 minutes in the following weeks.

Young ended up playing 12 matches for the Raiders in 2019 and certainly didn’t look out of place.

Seb Kris

The final player to make his NRL debut for the Raiders this season was local junior Seb Kris.

After making his debut from bench in Round 10 against South Sydney, Kris made a further three appearance for the club as part of the starting side.

A proud Torres Strait Islander, Kris scored three tries across the season.

 

Coaches Award Contenders

The Coaches Award is decided by Canberra Raiders Head Coach Ricky Stuart. Last year’s winner was Nick Cotric.

Sia Soliola

The veteran prop has continued to set the tone for Canberra Raiders in 2019 having only missed one game this season.

With a number of young forwards making their way into the side this season as well as the departures of Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo, Soliola has been influential on and off the field.

The 33 year old has scored two tries this season and averaged 97 running metres.

John Bateman

John Bateman has been an instant success since joining the club from the Wigan Warriors during the offseason.

Having started the season at lock, Bateman moved to the edge to devastating effect. His ability to play in the centres in case of an injury has proved handy at times too.

Dunamis Lui

An unsung hero for the 2019 season, Dunamis Lui hasn’t missed a single match this season and has helped set the tone amongst the forward pack.

Whether starting the match or coming off the bench, the 29 year old’s work rate in attack and defence has been outstanding and was displayed by his tackle on Josh Addo-Carr in the Qualifying Final which dislodged the ball and set up the match winning try.

Michael Oldfield

Last season’s Fred Daly Clubman of the Year, Michael Oldfield made nine appearances for the club this season and always ensured that team wasn’t disrupted when there were injuries across the outside backs.

Whether playing for the Raiders or in the Canterbury Cup for Mounties, Oldfield was a consistent performer with a knack of scoring tries.

Oldfield scored five tries for the season with three try assists to his name as well.

Ryan Sutton

After winning the Super League with the Wigan Warriors last season, made the move to the nation’s capital to test himself in the NRL.

The 24 year old made 20 appearances so far this season and has started in the middle and come off the bench.

The Englishman’s ball playing ability mixed with his strong defence and ball running has seen him earn a new contract with club.

Meninga Medal Contenders

The prestigious Meninga Medal is awarded to Player of the Year as voted by fellow players. Josh Papalii claimed the 2018 award and is likely to be in the mix once again.

Jack Wighton

Jack Wighton’s return to five-eighth has been a revelation for both himself and the Raiders as the 26 year old helped lead the club to a top four finish.

Wighton’s running game and passing game have been outstanding in recent seasons but his kicking game has gone to a new level. Wighton has averaged 240 kick metres per match and has also forced 14 drop outs.

Wighton, who also made his State of Origin debut this year, has scored seven tries and set up a further five.

Despite missing half of last season, Wighton finished fourth in last season’s tally and is likely to be in the mix once again.

 

Josh Papalii

Vying for his third Meninga Medal, last year’s winner Josh Papalii has had a mammoth 2019 leading the Raiders forward pack.

One of the premier props in the game, Papalii has been a damaging ball runner with 52 tackle breaks, 27 offloads and averaging 145 running metres.

The 27 year old has also scored five tries this season which included a dramatic match winner against the Melbourne Storm in Round 22.

Papalii will be hoping to be the first player to win back to back Meninga Medals since Shaun Fensom in 2012 and the first player to win the award three times since Laurie Daley.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad

Having joined the club late in pre-season, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad fitted into the side seamlessly in the key position of fullback.

Safe under the highball and possessing a great running game, the 24 year old has thrived in the nation’s capital and also helped Wighton’s development at five-eighth.

Nicoll-Klokstad has scored 11 tries so far this season, averaged over 170 running meters per match and has also set up three tries.

Having only previously played seven NRL matches in his career, it’s safe to say 2019 has been a breakout year for CNK.

John Bateman

As stated earlier, John Bateman has been an instant success since moving to the Raiders during the offseason.

His defensive steel, energy in attack and ability to play off the cuff has added a new dimension to the Raiders in 2019.

He came second in last season’s Man of Steel Award for the Best Player in the English Super League and could poll well in this year’s Meninga Medal tally.

He did miss three games earlier in the year with a fractured eye socket but was consistent throughout the season.

Bateman scored five tries, set up another four and managed 36 offloads for the season so far.

Elliott Whitehead

Having recently turned 30, Elliott Whitehead has become one of the leaders at the Raiders and is amongst the top performers each week.

Having come equal second in the tally for this award last year, Whitehead will be in contention once again after having played every game so far during the season.

The English international recently signed a new contract to extend his stay with the Raiders and has contributed significantly in defence and attack.

Whitehead has scored three tries, set up a further six and has a season tackle efficiency of 88.6%.

Jarrod Croker

Already a Canberra Raiders legend, Jarrod Croker will be aiming for his second Meninga Medal after previously winning the award in 2014.

Croker continued to break records in 2019 as he became the club all time leading try scorer and only the second player to reach 250 games for the Raiders.

The captain scored crucial tries throughout the season with 12 tries in total, while he also set up a further six tries.

Josh Hodgson

Elevated to captain alongside Jarrod Croker, Josh Hodgson has continued to lead from the front as the main attacking outlet for the Raiders.

The 29 year old has 12 try assists to his name this season, while also forcing 12 drop outs and assisting 134 line breaks.

Hodgson has also scored two tries this season while also notching up 100 games for the Raiders.

The hooker will be aiming for his second Meninga Medal after winning the award alongside Josh Papalii in 2016.