Daly Cherry-Evans said he was embarrassed and shocked to win the Clive Churchill Medal in 2013, after the Roosters beat Manly 26-18.
Roosters fans booed as Cherry-Evans was announced as the winner, the first player from the losing side to receive the award since St George’s Brad Mackay in 1993.
The crowd’s reaction drew the ire of former Roosters coach Brian Smith, who took four teams to grand finals during his career.
“Booing the referees is always childish but booing the best player of the match as he receives his award on centre stage is downright disrespectful and very bad form,” Smith wrote after the match.
“Not only is it demeaning to the player but also to those who made the selection and of the game’s history and standing in the broader community.
“A worldwide audience has taken that away with them as the way we treat our most outstanding performer on the biggest day of the season.”
The award was decided by the four Australian selectors, Bob McCarthy, Bob Fulton, Des Morris and Alan Smith.
Many felt Sonny Bill Williams should have won the medal for his performance in the closing stages of the match, but McCarthy said that didn’t make up for a lacklustre start.
“Sonny was awful in the first half,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Cherry-Evans was just the best player. I know it didn’t look all that good, but that’s the way it is. We’re like the referees; we’re not going to please everyone.”