Warriors forward Jazz Tevaga has taken aim at teammate Shaun Johnson losing the Dally M Medal to Kalyn Ponga amid debate over whether the award’s voting system needs another overhaul.
The 2023 award saw votes doubled from three to six points, but some felt the system wasn’t effective because players were rewarded with maximum points even in substandard teams or games.
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Johnson was widely regarded the most consistent player all season, but lost the Dally M Medal by a single vote when Ponga stormed home with six points in the final round when the Warriors halfback was rested.
“Congrats Kalyn but everyone knows it. SJ (Shaun Johnson) was robbed. That is almost as bad as that forward pass. Congrats to all our boys for their awards. Cracker season brothers,” Tevaga wrote on his Instagram story.
However, Johnson denied any robbery took place in a classy response to the heart-breaking one point loss, while also revealing what he and Ponga spoke about on-stage during the tense final rounds.
“I wasn’t (robbed) – Kalyn had a great year, he was the centrepiece of the Knights going on their run, and it was a really special run they went on,” Johnson told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“If there was going to be a person I thought was going to get it, it was him.
“When I got asked before the night what it would mean to me (to win), I hadn’t put much thought into it.
“As the night goes on, and they string you along (with the results), your heart gets racing, and I was like, ‘maybe I am a genuine chance of winning it’.
“At some point in the night I started caring about it. I said to Kalyn up there, ‘did you play the last two rounds?’ He said, ‘I didn’t play the last one’, and I was like, ‘neither did I’.
“When they gave me my points (for the last game), I asked him, ‘how well did you play? Did you kill it?’ He said, ‘I played good, but I didn’t kill it’. I was like, ‘OK’.
“Then six points popped up, and I was like, ‘bro, you killed it, you little liar’.”
Social media blew up with many calling for a change to the Dally M system.
Experts believe Johnson was denied points in a number of crucial games that could have swayed the result in his favour.
Ponga also missed a large chunk of the season through injury.
“Moley just watched highlights of the game where Shaun Johnson got ZERO points… he TOTALLY dominated. Whoever the NZ PM is these days should order an official inquiry,” The Mole tweeted.
Originally published as Claims of Dally M ‘robbery’ as Shaun Johnson makes classy Ponga call