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Tamika Upton crowned NRLW’s best at Dally M Awards

Jarred Cross -

Newcastle fullback Tamika Upton has won the Dally M medal as best player in the 2023 NRLW season after storming home at the death of the count.

Upton arrived at the Knights ahead of last season and could lead the club to consecutive premierships when they face the Gold Coast Titans in Sunday's grand final.

The proud Barada woman came into Wednesday's count a hot favourite with 221 average running metres, five tries and 56 tackles breaks across all games this season.

The 26-year-old was also named at fullback in the Dally M team for 2023.

Upton thanked the club, teammates and family for their support toward her achievement.

"This is definitely not an individual award," she said.

"I'm pretty lucky to be surrounded by the most amazing players and people really privileged to be a part of that club, as well as the Broncos girls. I started my career there and there's some of the most amazing players and some of my best friends so I'm really privileged to be part of that club as well."

Upton, a Rockhampton product and Queensland representative, played 12 games for Brisbane between 2019-2021.

Since moving south, she's flourished in red and blue and emerged as one of the finest talents in the game.

"It's pretty tough living away from home, to be honest…like I said, (to) family, friends back home that have always supported me and I can feel the love so thank you very much," Upton said.

In the men's award, strong favourite Shaun Johnson fell second to Newcastle's Katlyn Ponga in the final round.

Wiradjuri men Scott Drinkwater and Nicho Hynes both polled high numbers, finishing in third and fourth place respectively.

Drinkwater was ineligible to receive the award after the Cowboys gun spent three weeks on the sidelines through suspension early in the season.

Hynes won 2022's Dally M award, and backed things up by again taking home the Proven-Summons spirit of the game award for his act after receiving the Paul Green memorial medal in April.

Gold Coast second rower David Fifita and Brisbane five-eighth Ezra Man were named in the NRL Dally M team of the year.

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