Dally M triumph caps gun Shark’s ‘tough journey’


A palpable sense of overcoming the odds surrounded Nicho Hynes as he won the 2022 Dally M Medal on Wednesday night.

The gun halfback capped a spectacular switch from Melbourne to Cronulla by clinching the game’s top individual honour with a record-breaking haul.

He polled 38 votes to beat Roosters fullback James Tedesco and Dragons halfback Ben Hunt on the game’s night of nights at Royal Randwick Racecourse.

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Earlier in the night, Hynes had claimed the Provan-Summons Medal for his stirring message following the tragic death of Paul Green, in which he implored people to treat every day as “R U OK? Day”.

There was again a touch of humanity as he reflected on the stage about his rocky journey to the medal-clinching moment.

“I didn’t walk the easiest journey to get here and had some tough challenges growing up,” Hynes said.

“Now I’m in a privileged position to give back and hopefully influence some people who have been in my position, who are walking a tough journey right now, to hopefully inspire them to be here, where we’re all standing today.

“That’s our main goal, isn’t it? To be role models for the next generation.

“There’s going to be one day (when) we’re going to be retired and the next generation is going to come through.

Hynes thanks mum after Dally M win

“So hopefully we can help pave the way for those guys and they can be standing here one day, as well.”

Hynes’ mum, who joined him for the Dally M Awards, spent about seven years of Hynes’ childhood in and out of jail.

One moment he will never forget was when his mum, who he hadn’t seen in a long time, appeared at school. He dashed across the oval and jumped into her arms.

He also has clear memories of his mum being taken away from home in a paddy wagon.

“My beautiful mum sitting there — I love you so much,” Hynes said on Wednesday night as his mum fought off tears.

Hynes’ football career, similarly to his personal life, has taken a rough path.

He shone for Manly in the under-20s and was gunning for a two-year NRL deal during the 2016 pre-season, but he was struck down by injury and cut loose by the Sea Eagles.

What followed were stints with the Mackay Cutters and Sunshine Coast Falcons in the Queensland Cup.

“I took the long road going through (Queensland) Cup for a couple of years there no knowing if I would make it, and the Falcons and Mackay Cutters gave me a hell of a chance,” Hynes said.

“To all those guys fighting away in the reserve grade at the moment, it’s not too far. Just keep putting your head down, work hard and maybe you could be standing up here one day, as well.”

Hynes’ time in the Queensland Cup was marred by depression and suicidal thoughts.

He put his foot down, deciding that seeing a counsellor was a must.

Melbourne gave him his first crack as an NRL footballer and he seized the opportunity, dazzling at fullback when Ryan Papenhuyzen was injured and on other occasions starring as a bench utility.

Having proved at the Storm that he was worth every cent as an NRL footballer, his glowing form materialised in a $1.8 million, three-year deal with the Sharks.

Thurston surprised at Hynes’ sparkling halves switch

Chad Townsend departed for the Cowboys and Hynes, replacing him at halfback, steered the Sharks to a second-placed finish on the ladder.

Among the many people the playmaker thanked on Wednesday night was a mind coach he linked with this year.

“I can’t believe it, to be honest,” Hynes said of his Dally M Medal win.

“I just came here tonight just extremely grateful to be here surrounded by great players. Five years ago I was sitting at home watching this. I was only dreaming about being here and I didn’t think I would ever be here. Honestly, I just came here just expecting to have a good night and catch up with some old friends, really.”

As Hynes gave his best wishes to the NRL and NRLW grand finalists, he fired a cheeky jab at the Eels, prompting a barrel of laughs and round of applause.

“If Parra win, you didn’t beat us this year,” he said with a booming grin and fist pump.

“So up the Sharkies.”

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