Ten of the most dominant seasons in rugby league history from historian David Middleton

Source: Thetelegraph

2013 Dally M Try of the Year nominations 1:23

Check out the three nominees for the Dally M Try of the Year from the 2013 season.

Hayne 2009

Jarryd Hayne runs on to the field for kick-off in the 2009 preliminary final against he Bulldogs. Picture: Gregg Porteous Source: DailyTelegraph

WITH the Dally M Awards looming tomorrow night, rugby league historian DAVID MIDDLETON names 10 of the most dominant seasons ever seen.


This was acclaimed as Dally M’s greatest season. Messenger led Easts to their first premiership title and scored 148 points in the competition and 273 in all matches. In July that year, sporting newspaper the Referee stated that: “There is only one Messenger. The famous three-quarter back’s form in representative football this year has probably been better than ever. It has been characterised by all his customary brilliant and delightful unexpectedness, and allied to this is a matured football judgement, which has been particularly noticeable in defensive situations. Besides, his goal kicking has been truly phenomenal compared with that of the average first-class player.”

What is the most dominant season you’ve ever seen from a player or team? Leave your comment below.


Dally M

Easts player Herbert Henry ‘Dally’ Messenger kicks for goal during a first grade match in Sydney. Source: DailyTelegraph


Admittedly, the quality of the competition suffered through the loss of players to the fighting forces in France, but the performances of Glebe forward Frank Burge stood out like a beacon in 1918. After his attempt to enlist in the AIF was rejected because of a speech impediment, Burge devoted his energies to football and proceeded to cut a swathe through the opposition. He crossed for 24 tries (from 14 games) in 1918, a record for a forward that has never been beaten.


Frank Burge

The Burge brothers in their Glebe jumpers (L-R) Laidley, Peter, Albert & Frank. Picture: Courtesy of Ian Heads Source: Supplied


The year has been described as the greatest in South Sydney’s history. During the season, the Rabbitohs won the first grade premiership, the City Cup (knockout), reserve grade premiership and third grade premiership. They went through the first grade competition undefeated, winning all 12 games and leaving a 10-point gap between first and second. As a result, the NSWRL introduced a finals series the next season, in order to maintain interest in the competition.



Members of the 1925 South Sydney first-grade pack (L-R) George Treweek, Alf O’Connor, Alby Carr, Ern Lapham, Eddie Root & Harry Cavanough. Source: Supplied


Brown was tagged the “Bradman of League” in the 1930s and in 1935 he was at the height of his powers. Some of his extraordinary achievements for Eastern Suburbs remain in place today. He scored 38 tries for the season (a figure that has never been approached) and finished the year with 244 points. He twice scored six tries in a game and in one period of unparalleled brilliance he crossed for 22 tries in a mere five games. In one match that season, Brown scored 45 points (five tries and 15 goals), another record that has stood the test of time.


Dave Brown

Dave Brown gets a kick away during an Easts v Balmain game in 1935. Picture: Courtesy of Ian Collis Source: Supplied


The St George legend was still in the making in 1959 but it was that season that is hailed as the greatest in the Dragons’ unprecedented era of success. Saints swept all before them that year, taking out their fourth successive title with an undefeated record. The careers of Reg Gasnier and Johnny Raper were in their infancy but their combination with Norm Provan, Ken Kearney, Brian Clay, Billy Wilson and Eddie Lumsden carried the club to greatness.


Dragons 1959

Johnny Raper of St. George goes over for a try with Brian Clay behind him in 1959. Picture: News Ltd Archive Source: DailyTelegraph


Guided by coach Jack Gibson and led superbly by Arthur Beetson, the Roosters produced a premiership record 19-game winning sequence in 1975, on their way to a second successive premiership title. Easts’ all-star line-up included John Brass, Russell Fairfax, Mark Harris, Ron Coote, Johnny Mayes, Bill Mullins and Elwyn Walters.


Easts 1975

Members of the Eastern Suburbs 1975 first-grade premiership team. Source: Supplied


The prodigious halfback achieved a season of remarkable accomplishment in 1998, leading Brisbane to the premiership, Queensland to State of Origin success and Australia to victory in the series against New Zealand.



Brisbane Broncos captain Allan Langer is carried from field on shoulders of Wendell Sailor and Kevin Walters after beating Canterbury in the 1998 grand final. Picture: Trent Parke Source: DailyTelegraph


Despite falling at the final hurdle, Parramatta produced a season of rare dominance in 2001, smashing all-time records for tries and points scored in a season and beating the rest of the field home by five competition points. Their for and against differential was among the best ever recorded (433 points) and they cruised into the grand final with comfortable wins in the prelims.


Eels 2001

Nathan Hindmarsh (C) with teammates are disappointed after Newcastle defeated Parramatta in the 2001 NRL grand final. Picture: Mark Evans Source: DailyTelegraph


Few players have excelled as Jarryd Hayne did late in the 2009 season, his run of form catapulting the Eels from a near hopeless position halfway through the year all the way to the grand final. During a period of unprecedented individual dominance, Hayne won six consecutive man of the match awards. He took out the Dally M Medal, the Brad Fittler Medal (as NSW’s best in the Origin series) and the RLIF International Player of the Year.


Hayne Dally m

Parramatta Eels NRL player Jarryd Hayne with his 2009 Dally M Medal. Picture: Gregg Porteous Source: DailyTelegraph


Barba was a marvel for the Bulldogs in 2012, igniting his team’s charge to the grand final with his speed and evasive skills. His ability to turn defence into attack proved a remarkable asset for the Dogs and ensured that he was at the top of the leaderboard when the final Dally M votes were read out at the end of the season.


Ben Barba

Dally M Awards in Sydney in 2012, with Bulldogs player Ben Barba winning the top gong. Picture: Mark Evans Source: DailyTelegraph

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