It isn't the medal Jack Wighton wanted this year, but it's a pretty good consolation prize.
The Bloomfield Tigers and Orange CYMS junior capped off a brilliant 2020 NRL season with the Canberra Raiders as the Dally M Medallist.
Wighton now joins club greats Ricky Stuart (1993) and Laurie Daley (1995) as the only Raiders to have won the award, ending a 25-year drought for the Green Machine in the process.
He no doubt would've preferred a premiership medal having gone so close last year, but the Melbourne Storm knocked the Raiders out of the title race at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Not a bad way to ease the pain, though.
It's been a remarkable 12 months for Wighton, who won last year's Clive Churchill Medal as best-on-ground in Canberra's narrow grand final defeat to the Roosters in 2019.
He's taken his game to a new level in this coronavirus-affected campaign and shared the Mal Meninga Medal with Josh Papalii as Canberra's best players.
The 27-year-old was the only Raider invited up to the awards night, which was conducted as a virtual event.
Wighton also took home the Dally M five-eighth of the year and Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii was named one of the two props of the year.
Papalii also took home the tackle of the year award for his stunning ankle tap on Gold Coast halfback Jamal Fogarty.
Most pundits already had the medal around Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary's neck, but Wighton just keeps proving the doubters wrong.
In a thrilling finish, Wighton polled 26 votes to edge out Parramatta captain Clint Gutherson (25 votes) and Cleary (24).
Despite unprecedented challenges our players took our game to a new level in 2020.- NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo
Of course the evergreen and everpresent Cameron Smith (22) was also in the mix.
NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said Wighton had etched his name in history in one of the toughest seasons the competition has ever seen.
The Raiders not only had to deal with living in the Apollo bubble, but they also had the toughest travel schedule of any club in the competition - not to mention a crippling injury toll - yet they still made it to the penultimate weekend.
"Despite unprecedented challenges our players took our game to a new level in 2020," Abdo said.
"Tonight we celebrated our very best, those who provided so much excitement and hope during a challenging time in our community.
"Congratulations to Jack on creating history, winning the Dally M Medal in such a tough and uncompromising season. His feats will forever be etched into rugby league folklore."
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