Emma Tonegato has capped a dominant return to rugby league, crowned a joint winner of the NRLW’s Dally M Medal with Millie Boyle in a historic ceremony in Brisbane.
- Boyle’s Broncos fell last week in the semi-finals, while Tonegato will play the grand final on Sunday
- Tonegato also won tackle of the year for a try saver on Sydney’s Jess Sergis
- Titans skipper Brittany Breayley-Nati was named captain of the year, while Dragons mentor Jamie Soward won coach of the year
Olympic rugby sevens gold medallist Tonegato, who will play for St George Illawarra in Sunday’s grand final against the Roosters, and fellow dual-code star Boyle became the first joint winners of the prize, awarded on Thursday night.
In a grandstand finish, both fullback Tonegato and Brisbane Broncos forward Boyle, who only played five of the six regular-season games, polled three votes in the final round to overtake Parramatta Eels forward Simaima Taufa.
Tonegato helped the Jillaroos to a World Cup title as an 18-year-old in 2013, before switching codes and starring in Australia’s run to the first Olympic rugby sevens gold medal at Rio 2016, becoming a two-time Olympian in Tokyo last year.
Tonegato, now 27, knocked back an approach from St George Illawarra to play in the inaugural NRLW season in 2018 to re-sign with Rugby Australia until after last year’s Olympic Games in Japan.
She’s dominated after linking with them for a maiden season this year, scoring four tries in six games along with three try assists, six line-break assists, five line breaks and 967 running metres — second only to Boyle.
Tonegato also took out the tackle of the year award, spectacularly chasing down and turning Roosters winger Jess Sergis into touch in round five.
“I’ve loved coming back to the NRL, it really is the game I grew up watching and I’ve always wanted to play professionally,” she said.
Boyle averaged 198 metres per game for the defending champions, who were upset by the Roosters in Sunday’s semi-final.
“I honestly did not expect it at all,” Boyle said.
“Emma played such an amazing season and it’s really exciting to watch her in a grand final, coming back to rugby league from rugby sevens, after coming from league.
“It’s exciting to see what she’s done for her team and honoured to be alongside her.”
Gold Coast Titans skipper Brittany Breayley-Nati, the inaugural NRLW player of the year in 2018, was named captain of the year while Dragons mentor Jamie Soward won the coach of the year gong.