|2006 National Rugby League|
|Premiers||Brisbane (6th title)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Hazem El Masri (296)|
|Player of the year||Cameron Smith (Dally M Medal)|
|Top try-scorer(s)||Nathan Merritt (22)|
The 2006 NRL season was the 99th season of professional rugby league football in Australia and the ninth run by the National Rugby League. The lineup of teams remained unchanged from the previous year, with fifteen clubs competing for the 2006 Telstra Premiership. Throughout the 26 rounds of the regular season ten teams from New South Wales (9 of them from the Sydney basin), two from Queensland and one each from Victoria, the ACT and New Zealand competed for the minor premiership. Eight of these teams qualified for the four-week finals series, with the Brisbane Broncos eventual victors over the Melbourne Storm in the grand final. Melbourne finished the regular season first so were awarded the minor premiership, but this was later revoked due to the Melbourne Storm salary cap breach.
The salary cap for the 2006 season was A$3.366 million per club for their 25 highest-paid players. The New Zealand Warriors were investigated by the National Rugby League over alleged salary cap breaches committed by the team's previous administrators. The club admitted to inflating its salary cap to the tune of nearly $1 million during the 2005 season. The National Rugby League fined the Warriors $430,000 and ordered the team to start the season with a four premiership point deficit. It was the first time in 99 years of rugby league in Australia that a team has started a season on less than zero premiership points.
The Warriors appealed the decision by the NRL to deduct the four competition points but accepted the financial penalty. Prior to the beginning of the season, the National Rugby League confirmed that the points penalty would stand. The penalty would prove the decisive factor in the Warriors missing the finals for the third year in succession.
The season began on March 10 with a match between defending premiers Wests Tigers and the St George Illawarra Dragons, played at Telstra Stadium. The Melbourne Storm won 20 out of 24 regular season matches to win the minor premiership eight points clear of the Bulldogs. However, in April 2010, the Storm were retroactively stripped of their minor premiership as a result of salaray cap breaches occurring over the course of the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Sixteen stadiums regularly hosted National Rugby league matches, with a further six hosting at least one match in season 2006.
|Stadium name ||City||Host club(s)||Capacity |
|Suncorp Stadium||Milton, Brisbane, Qld||Brisbane Broncos||52,500|
|Canberra Stadium||Bruce, Canberra, ACT||Canberra Raiders||25,000|
|Olympic Park Stadium||Melbourne, Vic||Melbourne Storm||18,500|
|EnergyAustralia Stadium||Newcastle, NSW||Newcastle Knights||26,200|
|Aussie Stadium||Moore Park, Sydney, NSW||Sydney Roosters||41,159|
|Brookvale Oval||Brookvale, Sydney, NSW||Manly Warringah Sea Eagles||22,000|
|Campbelltown Stadium||Campbelltown, Sydney, NSW||Wests Tigers||20,000|
|Leichhardt Oval||Leichhardt, Sydney, NSW||Wests Tigers||20,000|
|Oki Jubilee Stadium||Kogarah, Sydney, NSW||St George Illawarra Dragons||20,541|
|Parramatta Stadium||Parramatta, Sydney, NSW||Parramatta Eels||20,500|
|CUA Stadium||Penrith, Sydney, NSW||Penrith Panthers||21,000|
|Telstra Stadium||Homebush, Sydney, NSW|| Bulldogs
South Sydney Rabbitohs
|Toyota Park||Cronulla, Sydney, NSW||Cronulla Sharks||21,500|
|Dairy Farmers Stadium||Kirwan, Townsville, Qld||North Queensland Cowboys||25,000|
|Mt Smart Stadium||Penrose, Auckland, New Zealand||New Zealand Warriors||25,000|
|WIN Stadium||Wollongong, NSW||St George Illawarra Dragons||20,000|
|Hindmarsh Stadium||Hindmarsh, Adelaide, SA||15,500|
|Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium||Gosford, Central Coast, NSW||20,059|
|Jade Stadium||Christchurch, New Zealand||36,500|
|Carrara Stadium||Carrara, Gold Coast, Qld||22,000|
|Waikato Stadium||Hamilton, New Zealand||26,350|
|Sydney Cricket Ground||Moore Park, Sydney, NSW||43,562|
In 2006 the NRL and their advertising agency MJW Hakuhodo stayed with the Hoodoo Gurus' "That's My Team" soundtrack for a fourth year, producing a treatment aimed to appeal to the fundamental hope of all players and fans: that it would be 'their team' who would win the Grand Final.
Capitalising on the enthusiasm generated by the Wests Tigers triumph of 2005 in only their sixth season, the campaign line and song chorus was changed to 'That's My Dream'.
All fifteen NRL club captains featured heavily in the television and outdoor ads holding aloft the Telstra trophy. Eight young real life fans also featured in the TV commercial reflecting the origins of the game from backyard football scenes to Sydney beaches. Each was a fan of one of eight clubs who had not till then won the Telstra Premiership trophy and four different broadcast versions of the ad told the stories of their love of the game and each's dream of their own team's victory.
The Dally M Awards were introduced in 1980 by News Limited. The most prestigious of these awards is the Dally M Medal which is awarded to the Player Of The Year. The other prestigious award is the Provans Summons Medal which is the season's best player as voted by the public. As well as honouring the player of the year the awards night also recognises the premier player in each position, the best coach, the best captain, representative player of the year and the most outstanding rookie of the season. The awards night and Player of the Year medal are named in honour of former Australian rugby league great Herbert Henry "Dally" Messenger.
|Player of the Year||Cameron Smith||Melbourne Storm|
|Provans Summons Medal||Nathan Hindmarsh||Parramatta Eels|
|Rookie of the Year||Jarryd Hayne||Parramatta Eels|
|Captain of the Year||Ben Kennedy||Manly Warringah Sea Eagles|
|Rep Player of the Year||Darren Lockyer||Brisbane Broncos|
|Coach of the Year||Craig Bellamy||Melbourne Storm|
Team of the Year
|Best Fullback||Clinton Schifcofske||Canberra Raiders|
|Best Winger||Brian Carney||Newcastle Knights|
|Best Centre||Mark Gasnier||St George Illawarra Dragons|
|Best Five-Eighth||Darren Lockyer||Brisbane Broncos|
|Best Halfback||Cooper Cronk||Melbourne Storm|
|Best Lock||Ben Kennedy||Manly Warringah Sea Eagles|
|Best Second-Rower||Nathan Hindmarsh||Parramatta Eels|
|Best Prop||Roy Asotasi||Bulldogs|
|Best Hooker||Cameron Smith||Melbourne Storm|
|6||St. George Illawarra||24||14||0||10||2||519||481||+38||32|
1The Melbourne Storm were later stripped of this minor premiership due to gross salary cap breaches.
2The New Zealand Warriors were deducted 4 competition points due to gross salary cap breaches.
|6||St. George Illawarra||0||0||2||4||4||6||8||8||8||10||12||14||16||18||20||22||24||26||26||26||26||26||26||28||30||32|
The Melbourne Storm went into the finals for the first time as Minor Premiers. They had a week off after their first finals win against the Parramatta Eels 12-6 to prepare for a Preliminary Final encounter, again the St. George Illawarra Dragons which was won by the Storm 24-10, earning them a spot in the Grand Final against the Brisbane Broncos. The Broncos had surprised everyone in the previous two months. After a slight hiccup in the Qualifying Final, going down against St. George Illawarra Dragons 20-4, they came back in the next two weeks, beating the Newcastle Knights 50-6 in the Semi Final and coming from 20-6 down at halftime to win 37-20 against the Bulldogs in the Preliminary Final.
|Date and Time||Venue||Referee||Crowd|
|Newcastle Knights||25–18||Manly Warringah Sea Eagles||8 September 2006 8:00pm||Energy Australia Stadium||Sean Hampstead||23,752|
|Brisbane Broncos||4–20||St George Illawarra Dragons||9 September 2006 6:30pm||Suncorp Stadium||Paul Simpkins||50,387|
|Bulldogs||30–12||Canberra Raiders||9 September 2006 8:30pm||Telstra Stadium||Shayne Hayne||14,628|
|Melbourne Storm||12–6||Parramatta Eels||10 September 2006 4:00pm||Olympic Park||Steve Clark||15,690|
|St George Illawarra Dragons||28–0||Manly Warringah Sea Eagles||15 September 2006 7:45pm||Sydney Football Stadium||Paul Simpkins||30,907|
|Newcastle Knights||6–50||Brisbane Broncos||16 September 2006 7:45pm||Sydney Football Stadium||Steve Clark||22,081|
|Bulldogs||20–37||Brisbane Broncos||22 September 2006 7:45pm||Sydney Football Stadium||Paul Simpkins||29,511|
|Melbourne Storm||24–10||St George Illawarra Dragons||23 September 2006 7:45pm||Telstra Stadium||Steve Clark||40,901|
|Qualifying Finals||Semi Finals||Preliminary Finals||Grand Final|
|2||Canterbury||30||4W||St. George Illawarra||28||St. George Illawarra||10|
|6||St. George Illawarra||20||3W||Newcastle||6||Brisbane||37|
Sunday, 1 October
|Brisbane Broncos||15 - 8||Melbourne Storm|
Darren Lockyer (2/2)
Corey Parker (1/2)
Darren Lockyer (1/1)
Cameron Smith (0/1)
Matt Geyer (0/1)
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