Speculate on Foran and Save on Thurston

Kieran Foran is a contender for this year's Dally M Medal.

Johnathan Thurston deserves Dally M Medal favouritism given that the North Queensland halfback has won the award on a record four occasions but another National Rugby League playmaker has caught one’s eye at much longer odds.

Thurston is a freak of a rugby league player who ran away with last year’s Dally M Medal, polling 32 votes to finish 11 votes ahead of Michael Ennis, Benji Marshall and Aaron Woods. It meant that Thurston became the first player since the great Andrew Johns to go back to back in the Dally M Medal and it lifted him above Joey in the overall honour roll. Thurston took out the Dally M Medal in 2005, 2007, 2014 and 2015 and, at the very least, he is worthy of a saver bet at odds of +500  with 888Sport and Unibet. One would hate to have a losing Dally M Medal season because one failed to place a stake saver on the obvious contender.

However, one’s main Dally M Medal selection for the National Rugby League campaign is Parramatta halfback Kieran Foran, the New Zealand international on whom the Eels are pinning their hopes of transforming their fortunes. Parramatta is one of the National Rugby League’s traditional powerhouse teams but the Eels have failed to qualify for each of the last six Finals Series and they have not won a title since 1986. Parramatta earned back-to-back National Rugby League wooden spoon in the two years prior to Brad Arthur’s arrival as coach and now, after a couple of rebuilding seasons, the former Eels junior has got something close to his own side.

Arthur is the reason that Foran quit Manly Warringah, the National Rugby League team with which he made his name and won the 2011 premiership, to sign a four-year deal with a Parramatta side that had not won anything of note since it ended the 2001 regular season on top of the ladder. Arthur is joining to build Parramatta around Foran, who is likely to force Corey Norman to the right edge so that he can line up inside Michael Jennings and Semi Radradra on the left. Foran is going to be at the centre of everything that Parramatta does and, if the Eels make the improvement that many National Rugby League analysts expect them to make, Foran is likely to collect a swag of Dally M Medal votes.

Radradra is the best finisher of moves in the National Rugby League and Jennings is electric on his day but, compared to most of the Dally M Medal favourites, Foran does not have a lot of internal competition for votes. Furthermore, Foran is a cleanskin whom most National Rugby League reporters like – the Dally M Medal is, to some degree, a popularity contest and almost no-one has a bad word to say about the Kiwi.

Parramatta is the only National Rugby League team that will play on each of the three weekends leading into a State of Origin game but that may work to the advantage of Foran in the Dally M Medal race. Foran is ineligible for State of Origin because he represents New Zealand and that means, barring either injury or suspension, he will line up for Parramatta versus Newcastle, South Sydney and Sydney in those substandard National Rugby League matches. It will be easier for Foran to stand out from the crowd when some of the National Rugby League superstars are forced to watch from the grandstand due to State of Origin commitments.

Foran, who featured prominently in the Dally M Medal counts of 2011 and 2014, is available at odds of +2500  with 888Sport and Unibet to receive the National Rugby League’s highest individual honour. One thinks that backing Foran and saving on Thurston is the way to approach the Dally M Medal from a punting perspective, with effectively one obtaining odds of 20.67 about Foran with Thurston at break even.

Tips Summary

Kieran Foran to win the 2016 Dally M Medal
National Rugby League 2016, starts 3rd March
Odds:  +2500

Johnathan Thurston to win the 2016 Dally M Medal
National Rugby League 2016, starts 3rd March
Odds:  +500

Dally M Medal
Kieran Foran
National Rugby League

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