He injured his hamstring again in the pre-season, saying he slipped in a bathroom the day after his infamous race down the Manly Corso with “Harry”. Trbojevic said that moment had changed his life and career more than most people would recognise.
He gave up drinking until season’s end, and said he is only now fully aware of the sacrifices he needs to make to ensure he remains one of the best players in the game.
“It’s a bigger part than people realise. It wasn’t an ideal way to start for me and it wasn’t a great look for myself and Manly. I had to cop that and change a few things in my life to make me a better footy player, and I think I was able to do that, which is pleasing,” Trbojevic said.
“It just made me focus on what’s important, and I just sacrificed a few things to make sure I was back out there playing footy.”
Earlier in night, Roosters fullback James Tedesco was named captain of the year after he helped a club stricken by serious injury and retirement into another finals series. He paid tribute to former captain Boyd Cordner, who retired midway through the year after multiple concussions.
“It was a crazy year for us with a lot of setbacks and disappointments but I couldn’t be prouder to lead the club,” Tedesco said.
“I want to thank Robbo [coach Trent Robinson] for true leadership, he guided us through it all. To Boyd Cordner, I leaned on him in important times. His presence was awesome all year for us.”
His Roosters teammate, Sam Walker, was named Rookie of the Year after some eye-catching performances in the key playmaking role for the Tricolours, which yielded eight tries and 19 try assists. He was still making the highlights reel in the finals, when he kicked the winning field goal against the Titans.
“The belief that was instilled in me through the club, Robbo and players this year was brilliant,” Walker said. “They allowed me to go out there and play my game. I would not be here without the club and what they’ve done for me the last two years.”
Craig Bellamy was Coach of the Year, having steered the Storm to a record-equalling 19 consecutive victories and the minor premiership. They were knocked out by the Panthers in the preliminary final but it didn’t dimish their brilliant regular season.
“I know all our members in Melbourne have had it pretty tough not being able to watch live, but they would’ve been glued to the television,” Bellamy said.
“I know it was a disappointing finish, but what the boys did this year was quite incredible. The players did a great job being away for two years; sometimes we had our families with us and sometimes we didn’t. I’ve enjoyed what the players have provided for us.”
Sports news, results and expert commentary. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.