While the Porter-Gallen Medal was the major individual award for 2020, perhaps equally as coveted is the Player’s Player, an accolade voted for by teammates.
The coach and his staff take in the action from afar, while also having the opportunity to watch video replays in looking for a variety of different aspects of a player’s performance as they determine their best each week, before ultimately coming up with a Player of the Year.
The Player’s Player however is somewhat different, with the award more a recognition of effort, a player’s peers casting a vote immediately following a game, usually before the dust has settled on a win or a loss.
New to the Sharks in 2020, Siosifa Talakai began the summer pre-season with no guarantees he would even make it to the season proper, but in being awarded the Tommy Bishop Player’s Player, it would appear it didn’t take him long to earn the respect of his new teammates.
Talakai went from train and trial, to a development contract, then when his talents were evident, was upgraded to a full NRL deal in making him eligible to represent the Sharks in 2020.
A debut in round four against the Cowboys followed, before the Souths junior would go on to play a leading role in the Sharks charge to a top eight finish, playing 16 top grade games in all and having a considerable impact in almost each and every match he played.
The highlights were many during a breakthrough season for Talakai, over 200 run metres in Sharks wins over the Broncos and Titans, more than 190 in a victory over the Warriors, with his name quickly becoming one of the first penciled in on the team sheet the longer the season continued.
And like fellow Sharks first-year player Toby Rudolf, Talakai has signed on for the 2021 season in some extremely positive news for the Cronulla fans, coaching staff, and judging by him being voted as the Player’s Player for 2020, his Sharks teammates as well.
See our video package with some of Talakai’s highlights from the 2020 season.