The Wolf previews the 2017 Clive Churchill Medal with all the facts and figures punters need to know:
Winners By Position
Fullback: 4 (Last: Darius Boyd, 2010)
Five-Eighth: 2 (Last: Greg Inglis, 2007)
Halfback: 10 (Last: Johnathan Thurston, 2015)
Prop: 3 (Last: Brent Kite, 2008)
Hooker: 2 (Last: Shaun Berrigan, 2006)
Backrow: 10 (Last: Luke Lewis, 2016)*
Bench: 0 Times
*6 locks, 4 second-rowers
Forwards v Backs
Winners On Losing Team
3: Daly Cherry-Evans (2013), Brad Mackay (1993), Brad Clyde (1991)
3: Halfback, Backrow
1: Five-Eighth, Prop
Players in 2017 Grand Final with Churchill Medal
2: Billy Slater (2009), Cooper Cronk (2012)
Clive Churchill Medal Winner (Market Order)
Cameron Smith ($3): Smith has easily been the best player in the NRL this year, reflected by his $1.08 quote to take out the Dally M Medal. He’s an obvious favourite here, but $3 is short enough and The Wolf is keen to shop around for better value.
Cooper Cronk ($5.50): It would be one of the great fairy tale stories if Cronk were to go out with a second Clive Churchill Medal in his final match for the Storm. Cronk won the CC Medal in 2012 and can’t be dismissed here.
Billy Slater ($8): Slater has had a great 2017 after making a successful comeback from shoulder surgery. “Billy The Kid” scored a double in last week’s Prelimnary Final shutout of the Broncos. Slater scored a try and set up three others in the Storm’s 26-8 win over the Cowboys in Round 22. Right in the mix.
Cameron Munster ($9): The Wolf’s top pick. Munster is the unsung hero in this Storm side and has already proven this year that he can deliver on the big stage. Munster was sensational in his debut in State of Origin 3 and his running game will challenge the Cowboys all night long. He plays above his weight and is a tackle-breaking machine. He hasn’t gone under The Wolf’s radar and looks a great bet at $9.
Michael Morgan ($11): Morgan has been a revelation during this year’s Finals series and has finally stepped out of the shadows of Johnathan Thurston. He has been instrumental in the Cowboys three wins during the finals, with a try and three try assists over that period. His kicking game has also been first class. It’s a two horse race between Morgan and Taumalolo to win the Clive Churchill Medal if the Cowboys defeat the Storm on Sunday night.
Jason Taumalolo ($11): The wrecking ball Taumalolo has been brilliant this season and has become the leader of the Cowboys pack, with Matt Scott sidelined. “Lolo” has the following stat lines during the Finals series. 22 runs for 259 metres against the Sharks, 21 runs for 242 metres against the Eels and 21 runs for 256 metres against the Roosters. If you like the Cowboys, you have to back Taumalolo for the Clive Churchill Medal.
Jesse Bromwich ($21): It’s been a solid season from Bromwich, but he has struggled to reach the heights of 2016. He has a strong supporting cast on the bench which hurts his minutes and chances here.
Tohu Harris ($21): 80 minute player who has had an injury-riddled 2017 campaign. Gets through plenty of work and is not the worst chance at $21.
Felise Kaufusi ($26): Kaufusi fits into the culture of the Melbourne Storm. Do your job and do it it well. He doesn’t get the accolades that he deserves, but he was very good in the Storm’s Preliminary Finals win over the Broncos. He created two line-breaks with his offloading ability and is a constant threat on the edge. $26 looks like a great price for an underrated player who will play 80 minutes.
Te Maire Martin ($26): Can’t have a Cowboys player outside of Morgan and Taumalolo.
Will Chambers ($31): Like Chamber’s chances of scoring the first try, but a centre has never won the Clive Churchill Medal. He gets through plenty of work but there’s better chances ahead of him.
Jake Granville ($34): Ben Hampton’s presence on the bench hurts his chances and he needs to play 80 minutes to be considered.
Gavin Cooper ($34): He’ll be solid without being spectacular. Taumalolo is the Cowboys backrower that you would want to be backing.
Suliasi Vunivalu ($36): Would need to score a hat-trick to be a chance and still will struggle to win.
Dale Finucane ($41): The Wolf’s value bet. Finucane isn’t afraid of the tough stuff, but the only query is his minutes, hence the $41 quote. Finucane also has the unwanted record of being in three losing grand final teams (2012, 2014 and 2016) and would be a popular choice if the Storm win this year. Can’t be ignored at the big price.
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