NRL Expert @JennaBrooks
NRL talking points: The Grand Final, Dally M winners and John Bateman's future at Canberra
Last Updated: 02/10/19 3:03pm
The NRL Grand Final has arrived, while Jenna Brooks has the latest as the Dally M Medallist is crowned. Plus, could Josh Hodgson be a doubt for the showpiece? And is John Bateman’s future in doubt?
And the winners are…
James Tedesco has been crowned the 2019 Dally M medallist.
The Sydney Roosters full-back beat Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith by just three points in the final round of votes.
"It is obviously a huge honour to receive this award," Tedesco said. "I just want to thank the Sydney Roosters club…all the staff and, of course, the players.
"I wouldn't have had the year I have had without you guys, our whole team made me look good."
English star John Bateman has left his mark on the competition in his first year playing in the NRL too, winning the second-rower of the year accolade.
Melbourne's Craig Bellamy won coach of the year for a fifth time.
Then there were two
It's been a long 25 years to wait, but Canberra Raiders are through to the Grand Final after they beat South Sydney Rabbitohs 16-10 in front of a packed stadium in the capital.
Having beaten Melbourne 14-6, the Roosters find themselves in a familiar situation. They're back to defend their title after being crowned premiers last year.
Canberra are looking for just a fourth title and first since 1994, and coach Ricky Stuart insists his team are the underdogs and aren't feeling any pressure ahead of the season decider.
"It will be easy for us because there is no expectation on us," Stuart told Fox Sports.
"We are not expected to win. There is nothing there to say that there is pressure on our squad to go to this Grand Final and upset the Roosters because they are the favourites, and they deserve that."
The Roosters are preparing for an eighth Grand Final in the NRL era and third under Trent Robinson, who will be looking to become the 10th coach to make it a hat-trick of wins in the showpiece game.
If the Roosters are victorious, Cooper Cronk will further cement his place in history. The halfback will become the first player to win three in a row in almost 36 years.
Sunday will be his 375th and final game, and Cronk has his sights set on achieving something he has not done yet - back-to-back titles with the same club.
"I am the wrong person to ask about how it would feel," Cronk said. "I have tried that on a few occasions and failed so you might have to ask someone from the Broncos how to do it.
"Rugby league has been terrific to me and I never thought I'd be in this position. The way I need to say thank you, particularly to my team-mates and this footy club and its members, is by my performance on Sunday."
Are their concerns for Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson ahead of the Grand Final?
The England hooker missed Canberra's public training session on Tuesday due to a virus. However, assistant coach Brett White expects Hodgson to make a full recovery in time to play against the Roosters on Sunday.
"The medical staff will keep an eye on [Hodgson] through the week and assess him every day, but it's good to see him back at training this morning," White said.
"I've got no doubt the medical guys and Hodgo will do everything to make sure he is, if not close to, [100 per cent] fit.
Hodgson was at the centre of a concussion controversy after the win over the Rabbitohs, with the NRL investigating if the hooker should have been taken off, after suffering a knock on Friday, for a head injury assessment.
He stumbled slightly when getting up after attempting to make a tackle. Club doctors had reviewed the incident on the sideline before clearing him to play on.
Former Penrith Panthers boss and Channel Nine commentator Phil Gould believes the attention surrounding the incident is an overreaction.
"I think we've been way too over-sensitive to this whole hysteria around HIA, concussion and that sort of thing," Gould said.
"I get player welfare and I get the importance of it, but we have totally over-reacted to it."
John Bateman's future is uncertain after the Canberra superstar admitted to NRL.com he will sit down with the Raiders after the Grand Final to discuss his salary.
The former Wigan Warriors forward still has two years left on his contract. His current deal is reported to be worth no more than £220,000 and has enlisted the services of player manager Isaac Moses to try to broker a better deal.
"I don't know where Canberra are at with their salary cap," Bateman said. "While I'm over here, I have to do what is best for my family. Moving forward I'll just have to weigh up my options and see what's there.
"But Canberra is the most important thing to me this week, and once this gets out of the way we'll sit down with Canberra and my agent will do what he will have to, he will do his job. Going forward, we'll just go from there."