One of the hallmarks of this seasons campaign so far for the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles has been the introduction of so many new faces into the NRL line up. Des Hasler has like never before thrown the baton to a new generation of stars, and now two of the young dynamos for the high flying Eagles are in the frame for Dally M rookie of the year honors.
One of many : Cherry-Evans is a standout in a young manly side.
Manly's stars might not have it all their own way however. As reported in Sydney's Daily Telegraph this is shaping up as a three way battle.
When North Queenslands wrecking machine Tariq Sims smashed Titans winder Steve Michaels into another world on Saturday night, Gold Coast veteran Luke Bailry was overheard having this argument with the referee on Sports Ears. "Are you going to send the 12 off for that?" Bailey questioned.
"No, he's done nothing wrong," the ref replied.
To which Bailey responded: "Yeah, but he hits too hard. He's almost knocked me out twice already."
Now, before you go saying Bailey's getting soft in his old age, we're guessing his comments were made in jest, given the former Dragon has known of Sims since Tariq was a kid growing up on the NSW South Coast.
But such has been the young Cowboy's sudden impact in 2011 that Sims today has everyone in the game talking.
Especially the game's old hard heads. Gorden Tallis. Paul Gallen. Steve "Blocker" Roach.
They're all self-confessed members of the Tariq Sims fan club.
Blues skipper Gallen labelled Sims the game's next superstar on Channel Nine's The Sunday Footy Show last week - while Blocker takes the argument a step further, declaring Test selectors could do worse than hand Sims a plane ticket to the Four Nations at the end of the season.
But has the young Cowboy done enough to be crowned Dally M Rookie of the Year - or are Manly young guns Will Hopoate or Daly Cherry-Evans ahead of him on points in the race for the prestigious gong?
"For mine, I'm always going to go for the pig," Roach roared in support of Sims.
"Mate, I like Cherry-Evans but (Sims) is playing like he wants to hurt someone.
"He is a unit. He is going to be a super player, this kid."
There's no questioning Hopoate's credentials given he not only played Origin this year but starred against the game's elite, while Cherry-Evans has been instrumental in guiding the Sea Eagles this season.
Matty Johns' money is on the half.
"Cherry Evans. Toughest position for a rookie and he's been fabulous," he said.
So which player has had the bigger season?
And how do you compare brains and brawn up against Hopoate's brilliance?
Blocker makes no apologies for barracking for Sims and reckons he was unlucky not to have made the NSW Origin team for game three.
"Mate, I'll tell you the honest truth, had it not been the decider I reckon we would have seen him in Origin this year," Roach added. "He will definitely be there next year."
Asked if Sims could emerge as a bolter for the Four Nations, Roach offered: "Take him, mate, take him. Give him a lick. He's towelling up internationals now. Why not? I like what I see."
So far most of the debate surrounding the Dally M Rookie of the Year award has centred on it being a showdown between Sims and Cherry-Evans because most assumed Hopoate was out of contention after making his NRL debut in 2010.
But the rules for the award stipulate that a player's rookie season is judged to be one in which he has participated in more than three NRL premiership matches (or English Super League matches) as either a starting player or one of the four official replacement players.
That puts Hopoate in the contest. All three are worthy contenders - but who gets your vote?
To vote follow the link to the Daily Telegraph below :