The Dally M Awards descended into a farce tonight when the winner of the major award was leaked by The Daily Telegraph in a first-class stuff-up that has left the NRL and News Corp red-faced.
The live awards ceremony didn’t get underway until 7.30pm but more than an hour before it started, the Telegraph accidently published an article revealing Canberra’s Jack Wighton had won the Dally M Player of the Year.
The article was quickly removed but not before eagle-eyed social media users picked up the error.
The final voting tally was also published briefly.
— Alex McCormack (@alexmac75) October 19, 2020
The leaking of the winner by one of the game’s main media partners, which manages the Awards, is a huge embarrassment for the code in Grand Final week.
Tonight’s issues are likely to lead to calls for a complete re-think of how the awards are managed and coordinated.
The drama follows the Dally M betting scandal surrounding Craig Bellamy’s Coach of the Year win last year.
It’s understood the Team of the Year was also leaked on various message groups and chats.
The fallout from this will be something else. This is a colossal f up #DallyM
— Eden Richards (@Eden_Richards) October 19, 2020
Penrith’s Nathan Cleary finished third in the overall Dally M tally, behind Wighton and Clinton Gutherson.
This year’s awards were presented as a made-for-TV event, with the traditional ceremony scrapped due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Senior Telegraph Journalist Phil Rothfield Tweeted: “Owing to a production error that was out of my control, The Daily Telegraph website accidentally published the winner of the Dally M award before the official announcement tonight. We apologise sincerely for the mistake.”
— Davey A (@davey_A67) October 19, 2020
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.