NRL legends call for voting change as identity of one Dally M judge revealed

Queensland greats Darren Lockyer and Wally Lewis want the Dally M system to be changed back to its old form.

Rugby League greats Wally Lewis and Darren Lockyer have urged the NRL to revert the Dally M system back to its previous form after some controversial selections in the opening two rounds. The Dally M voting format changed from one judge to two last year, with both selectors' identities kept secret.

The judges came under significant criticism after Dolphins star Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow earned a point in round one, despite having a horror game in the Dolphins' 43-18 loss to the Cowboys. While also in round one Roosters star Joey Manu did not receive a single vote despite lighting up Las Vegas in the Roosters' win, and Nicho Hynes picked up a maximum six points despite having a pretty quiet game, with no tries or try assists.

Pictured L-R: Darren Lockyer, Wally Lewis and Nicho Hynes
Rugby League greats Wally Lewis and Darren Lockyer have urged the NRL to revert the Dally M system back to its previous form after some controversial selections in the opening two rounds. Image: Getty

This week Greg Alexander outed himself as a judge, despite the role's anonymous status, saying the new system is "all over the place" and needs fixing. The Panthers legend said he awarded points in the Cowboys and Knights clash played on Saturday afternoon.

"I gave points over the weekend," admitted Alexander on Breakfast with Vossy and Brandy. "Am I breaking any rules if I say this is who I gave points to? Tom Dearden three (votes), two to Adam Elliot, and one to the match-winner Chad Townsend."

Wally Lewis and Darren Lockyer call for Dally M change

His revelation comes as Lewis and Lockyer called for the system to be simplified, urging the NRL to return to the one-judge system. "I think the game's improved since we've gone back to one referee and I feel like this is the same thing, we've gone two judges for one game. Let's simplify it, keep it simple," Lockyer said on Wide World of Sports' QLDER podcast.

"What you throw in is when you publish the votes (the conjecture is) 'how does one person see that and the other person sees this?'. It just brings up a lot of negative discussion. They've tried it and I thought the old system was fine."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 11: Blues advisor, Greg Alexander looks on during the New South Wales Blues State of Origin captain's run at NSWRL Centre of Excellence on July 11, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Greg Alexander outed himself as a Dally M judge earlier this week and declared that the new system is "all over the place".

Lewis agreed with Lockyer's belief that the previous system was "working well". "Obviously it just shows that we all think differently and there's not too many that have identical thoughts about a game in the voting," he said. "Will it last? I think that's probably the question, will they continue it next year? Probably at the end of the year, there'll be a bit of a discussion on was that the right thing to do. If not, let's change it."

Hynes currently sits top of the Dally M leaderboard with a maximum 12 votes through two games. Fullbacks Ryan Papenhuyzen and Tom Trbojevic sit equal-second, three points behind him with nine points each.

Graham Annesley defends Dally M voting system

Rugby League fans were left angry at the judges' early season decisions after some peculiar choices were made. But NRL head of football Graham Annesley said he is happy with the system in place, stating that the judges are highly qualified to vote as they are all "high-profile former players".

"They've got a job to select players who are their peers because they've done exactly what these players have done," he said. "Across the course of the season, the players will be judged by many of these judges, and it's not like we've got these judges doing the same teams every week. It's about the credibility and the integrity of the process, so it shouldn't matter who is doing the selections as long as they're people who are qualified to do it.


"It's a season-long competition, and people will agree or disagree (with the votes). It happens publicly for the first half of the year and then it goes behind closed doors. That's been the process for recent seasons, and it's the process again. It's a matter of opinion."

The only judge that has been confirmed so far is Alexander. The Panthers great played 265 games across his 16-year career, captaining Penrith to their maiden premiership in 1991, and is highly regarded throughout the NRL community.

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