Cronulla halfback Nicho Hynes has delivered an emotional and classy speech after winning the 2022 Dally M Medal.
Hynes won by polling the most votes in the award’s 43-year history, in his first season at the Sharks after moving to the club for a starting spot.
The 26-year-old was handed the No. 7 jersey by rookie coach Craig Fitzgibbon in a move plenty of pundits said was fraught with danger.
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But Hynes stepped up to the challenge and delivered with aplomb, leading the Sharks to a second place finish on the ladder.
“You don’t really play for the individual awards but it’s an honour to be here and I got to do it with my mum tonight who means the absolute world to me, and I can’t thank her enough,” Hynes said on stage.
“I didn’t walk the easiest journey to get here, I had some challenges growing up and I’m now in a privileged position to give back and hopefully influence some people who have been in my position and are walking a tough journey right now.
“Hopefully I inspire them to be here where we’re standing today.”
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Hynes now holds the record for the most Dally M points in history, eclipsing Johnathan Thurston’s previously held the record of 36 in 2007.
“It doesn’t say a whole lot about me, it says a lot about Fitzy and my teammates,” Hynes said.
“I can’t do anything on the field if it isn’t for my teammates and Fitzy started that by getting me to the club.
“It’s a team sport and my teammates have backed me to hilt and put trust in me to be their No. 7 and I can’t thank them enough.
“The Cronulla Sharks – they gave me an opportunity to be a starting player which I wanted to do, and I can’t thank my teammates enough.
“To our fans, I rocked up to Cronulla use to being in Melbourne where nobody knows you.
“At Cronulla they welcome you with open arms so thank you very much and hopefully we have a better result next year.”
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Cronulla’s brilliant season turned into a disappointing finals campaign as the bounced out in straight sets.
“I’d probably rather be playing in a grand final like these guys are but you know this is the next best thing,” Hynes said.
Hynes made special mention of his former club in a classy gesture, before encouraging fringe first graders to not give up on their NRL dream.
“You’re probably going to think I’m a bit of a weirdo because I’m thanking my old club the Melbourne Storm, I wouldn’t be standing here today without the Melbourne Storm,” he said.
“Especially Craig Bellamy and Billy Slater, the whole coaching staff. I never forget where I came from and they gave me my first opportunity to be an NRL player.
“I took the long road, going through Q-Cup for a couple of years there not knowing if I’d make it and the Falcons and Mackay Cutters gave me a chance.
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“To all those guys fighting away in reserve grade at the moment, it’s not too far, just keep putting your head down and working hard and maybe you can be standing up here one day as well.”
Finally, Hynes thanked his family and support network.
“To my family and friends, my beautiful mother sitting there I love you so much, my old man sitting at home with his beautiful wife Lisa,” Hynes said.
“I wouldn’t be here right now dad if it wasn’t for you, you held me together and so did my brother as well who is sitting at home with my beautiful nieces, go to bed if you’re watching.
My brother has been my strength.
“I hired a mindset coach this year to help me deal with all the things off field and the pressure and what not so Jarrod Brown I appreciate you and thank you a lot.”
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