North Queensland playmaker Thurston joins Andrew Johns as the only three-time winners of rugby league’s highest individual honour, while Parramatta’s Hayne was claiming the gong for the second time.
The duo finished equal on 32 points in the count read out by Hollywood star and South Sydney co-owner Russell Crowe.
His charge Sam Burgess came third, three points back in what is a farewell nod from the code before he joins Bath in Premiership Rugby back in England.
With honours also dished out for individual positions, Thurston was an unsurprising five-eighth of the year and also the Provan Summons People’s Choice medal winner, for the fan favourite.
Thurston also finished the season with a league high of 208 points, no small thanks to his radar-like kicking.
“I’m alright now … Russell just hurry up mate geez,” said Thurston. “Obviously Haynesy has had a great year, congratulations to the big fella. Hopefully I’ll play alongside him over next few weeks [for Australia]. Joey, he’s an Immortal and just to have half the career he had I’d be ecstatic. To have my name mentioned alongside his with the highest honour the Dally M medal, it’s mind blowing and humbling. I’m shaking.”
Hayne was honoured to be alonside Thurston, his Australia team-mate but rival on opposite sides of the State of Origin divide.
“It’s a huge honour and I consider myself very lucky to even be next to Thursto,” he said. “I thought he had it wrapped up and to be able to hang in there to the death makes it even more special. I’d like to thank my team-mates, my coach Brad Arthur. He’s been a huge influence on the way I play.”
Hayne won best representative player for his work in the Blues series win. He also nailed down top try-scorer for crossing 20 times and picked up full-back of the year.
In other awards, Manly’s Jamie Lyon won captain and centre of the year, while his team-mate Daly Cherry-Evans was chosen as the best halfback.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was coach of the year while Wests Tigers’ Luke Brooks was rookie of the year.
England players James Graham and Burgess were the best prop and lock, and will clash in Sunday’s grand final in Sydney.
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