2009 NRL season
|2009 National Rugby League|
|Minor premiers||St. George Illawarra (1st title)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Hazem El Masri (248)|
|Player of the year||Jarryd Hayne (Dally M Medal)|
|Top try-scorer(s)||Brett Morris (25)|
The 2009 NRL season was the 102nd season of professional rugby league football club competition in Australia, and the twelfth run by the National Rugby League. For the third consecutive year, sixteen teams competed for the 2009 Telstra Premiership title. The season commenced with the first match played on 13 March and ended with the Grand Final, played on 4 October. The Grand Final was won by the Melbourne Storm in their fourth consecutive grand final appearance. However, they were stripped of their Premiership on 22 April 2010 after they were found to be guilty of breaching the league's salary cap.
The second season of the National Youth Competition also commenced in line with the Telstra Premiership.
This season the NRL introduced a second on-field referee. Previously when the ball changed possession the lone on-field referee would have to change his position to stay with the defending team. He also could only observe the ruck from one direction. The two-referee system saves the referees some running back and forth to get into position as possession changes and also improves watchfulness over the ruck.
The St. George Illawarra Dragons, under new coach Wayne Bennett finished the regular season with their first minor premiership title as a joint venture club. However, the Dragons then became the first minor premiers since the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 1993 to be eliminated from the final series in consecutive losses.
For the first time since the McIntyre Final Eight System was introduced, a game was played twice in a row in the same stadium. This happened when the Dragons and Parramatta Eels played each other in round 26 (the final regular season round) and again in the first week of finals, both at WIN Jubilee Oval at Kogarah. The first game saw St George Illawarra come away with a 37-0 win in front of 17,974, while the next weeks Qualifying final saw Parramatta reverse the result with a 25-12 win in front of 18,174.
The Eels went on to become the first side since the McIntyre Final Eight System was introduced (in 1999) to make the grand final from eighth position. Along the way, they defeated the top three teams – the St George Illawarra Dragons, Gold Coast Titans and Bulldogs – in their three finals series matches, to make it to their first Grand Final since 2001. Their Grand Final opponents, the Melbourne Storm, were playing in their fourth straight Grand Final and were looking for their third premiership having previously won in 1999 and 2007.
In 2009, NRL games on New Zealand's Sky network drew average audiences of 46,221.
Records set in 2009
- Bulldogs winger Hazem El Masri broke the all-time highest points record of 2,176 previously set by former Newcastle Knights halfback Andrew Johns when he scored 14 points against Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Round 1.
- St George Illawarra Dragons winger Brett Morris and his twin, Bulldogs centre Josh Morris, set the record for the most tries scored by brothers in a regular season (42). The pair record a further five tries between them in the finals series, with Brett scoring 25 to Josh's 22.
- The Brisbane Broncos suffered their worst defeat in their 22-year history losing 56–0 to the Canberra Raiders in round 21 at Canberra Stadium.
- A record finals attendance (excluding grand finals) was set when the Parramatta Eels and Bulldogs preliminary final drew a crowd of 74,549 at ANZ Stadium. With the exception of all Grand Finals played at ANZ since 1999, and the 1965 Grand Final at the Sydney Cricket Ground, this remains the highest attendance for any game since the premiership began in 1908.
- Cameron Smith became the Melbourne Storm's leading point scorer, overtaking now-Sea Eagles half Matt Orford in the preliminary final against the Brisbane Broncos.
- The Melbourne Storm became the first club since the Parramatta sides of the 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984 seasons to make four consecutive grand finals.
- The Parramatta Eels were the first team ever under the McIntyre system to finish 8th in the regular season and make it to the grand final.
Keen to speak to its grass roots following in light of the AFL's aggressive expansion in rugby league's suburban heartland the NRL and its agency MJW Hakuhodo created a TVC which tells the story of junior rugby league players enjoying the game and perhaps becoming stars of the future. The commercial featured two young boys playing league in a suburban park. As they contest the game, they morph into stars of the League as a packed stadium emerges around them. Seven-year-old Penrith junior Cameron Lloyd and 14-year-old La Perouse junior Alex Johnston play the main roles in the campaign with Johnson morphing into Melbourne's Greg Inglis scoring a try in corner in a big match. Announcing the 2009 launch TVC
The clubs in the League for 2009 remained unchanged for the third consecutive year, with sixteen participating in the regular season: ten from New South Wales, three from Queensland and one from each of Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and New Zealand. Of the ten from New South Wales, eight were from Sydney's metropolitan area (with St. George Illawarra being a Sydney and Wollongong joint venture). Just two foundation clubs from the 1908 New South Wales Rugby Football League season played in this competition: the Roosters and the Rabbitohs.
|1||St. George Illawarra||24||17||0||7||2||548||329||+219||38|
* Bulldogs stripped of 2 competition points after an interchange breach in round 2
- Numbers highlighted in green indicate that the team finished the round inside the top 8.
- Numbers highlighted in blue indicates the team finished first on the ladder in that round.
- Numbers highlighted in red indicates the team finished in last place on the ladder in that round
- Underlined numbers indicate that the team had a bye during that round.
|1||St. George Illawarra||0||2||4||6||8||8||10||12||12||14||16||18||18||20||22||24||26||28||30||32||34||36||36||36||36||38|
The NRL finals series adopted the McIntyre Final Eight System. Four teams made a return to the 2009 finals from 2008, grand finalists Melbourne Storm, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles along with the Brisbane Broncos and St George Illawarra Dragons. Both the Bulldogs and Parramatta Eels made a return after being absent in 2008. The Newcastle Knights made the finals for the first time since 2006 and their first since the departure of club legend Andrew Johns. The Gold Coast Titans entered their maiden finals series. It was also the first finals series since 2002 that no team was held scoreless.
|Date and Time||Venue||Referees||Crowd|
|Melbourne Storm||40 – 12||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||11 September, 7:45pm||Etihad Stadium||Gavin Badger
|Gold Coast Titans||32 – 40||Brisbane Broncos||12 September, 6:30pm||Skilled Park||Ben Cummins
|Bulldogs||26 – 12||Newcastle Knights||12 September, 8:30pm||ANZ Stadium||Tony Archer
|St George Illawarra Dragons||12 – 25||Parramatta Eels||13 September, 4:00pm||WIN Jubilee Oval||Jarred Maxwell
|Parramatta Eels||27 – 2||Gold Coast Titans||18 September, 7:45pm||Sydney Football Stadium||Shayne Hayne
|Brisbane Broncos||24 – 10||St. George Illawarra Dragons||19 September, 7:45pm||Suncorp Stadium||Tony Archer
|Bulldogs||12 – 22||Parramatta Eels||25 September, 7:45pm||ANZ Stadium||Tony Archer
|Melbourne Storm||40 – 10||Brisbane Broncos||26 September, 7:45pm||Etihad Stadium||Shayne Hayne
Sunday, 4 October
|Melbourne Storm||23 – 16||Parramatta Eels|
Cameron Smith (3/4)
Greg Inglis (1/1)
Eric Grothe, Jr.
Luke Burt (2/3)
Club and Player records
The following figures were collected from the completion of round 26 of the regular season and therefore do not represent any figures associated with the finals series or any representative matches for this year.
Top 5 point scorers
|234||Hazem El Masri||14||89||0|
Top 5 try scorers
Most points in a match by an individual
|24||Luke Burt||2||8/8||0||Newcastle Knights||40–8||Parramatta Stadium||Round 22|
|24||Luke Burt||2||8/8||0||Penrith Panthers||48–6||Parramatta Stadium||Round 25|
|24||Benji Marshall||2||8/10||0||Cronulla Sharks||56–10||Toyota Stadium||Round 23|
|24||Joe Tomane||3||6/9||0||Brisbane Broncos||48–4||Olympic Park Stadium||Round 13|
Most tries in a match by an individual
|4||Israel Folau||Gold Coast Titans||32–18||Suncorp Stadium||Round 10|
|4||Phil Graham||Brisbane Broncos||56–0||Canberra Stadium||Round 21|
|4||Joel Moon||Penrith Panthers||32–32||CUA Stadium||Round 21|
|4||Brett Morris||North Queensland||20–24||Dairy Farmers Stadium||Round 9|
|4||Billy Slater||Manly Sea Eagles||40–12||Etihad Stadium||Qualifying Final|
Largest winning margin
|56 – 0
|Canberra Raiders||Brisbane Broncos||Canberra Stadium||Round 21|
|56 – 10
|Wests Tigers||Cronulla Sharks||Toyota Stadium||Round 23|
|48 – 4
|Melbourne Storm||Brisbane Broncos||Olympic Park||Round 13|
Most points in a match
|82||Brisbane Broncos||Penrith Panthers||58–24||Suncorp Stadium||Round 23|
|74||Wests Tigers||South Sydney Rabbitohs||54–20||ANZ Stadium||Round 17|
|72||Penrith Panthers||Parramatta Eels||38–34||CUA Stadium||Round 17|
Fewest points in a match
|13||New Zealand Warriors||Newcastle Knights||13–0||Mt Smart Stadium||Round 14|
|14||New Zealand Warriors||Wests Tigers||14–0||Mt Smart Stadium||Round 12|
|14||Brisbane Broncos||St. George Illawarra Dragons||12–2||WIN Stadium||Round 24|
|16||St. George Illawarra Dragons||Cronulla Sharks||10–6||WIN Jubilee Oval||Round 3|
Most points scored in a match by an individual team
|58||Brisbane Broncos||Penrith Panthers||58–24||Suncorp Stadium||Round 23|
|56||Wests Tigers||Cronulla Sharks||56–10||Toyota Stadium||Round 23|
|56||Canberra Raiders||Brisbane Broncos||56–0||Canberra Stadium||Round 21|
|54||Wests Tigers||South Sydney Rabbitohs||54–20||ANZ Stadium||Round 17|
|52||South Sydney Rabbitohs||Sydney Roosters||52–12||Sydney Football Stadium||Round 1|
2009's regular season attendance figures were the highest recorded in Australian rugby league history, with a total of 3,081,849. This figure bettered the previous record set by the 1995 Winfield Cup's regular season (3,061,338 in a 20 team competition) and also beat the Telstra Premiership's previous best of 3,024,149 set in 2007.
The 2009 season also saw the second highest average crowd figure of a regular season, with a crowd average of 16,051, behind the best of 16,466 set in the 2005 NRL season.
The 20 highest regular season match attendances:
|Coach||2008 Club||2009 Club|
|Wayne Bennett||Brisbane Broncos||St. George Illawarra Dragons|
|Neil Henry||Canberra Raiders||North Queensland Cowboys|
- Stuart Honeysett and Brent Read (23 April 2010) Shocking end to the Melbourne Storm era The Australian
- "Melbourne Storm breach NRL Salary Cap". National Rugby League. 22 April 2010. Archived from the original on 25 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- McDonald, Margie (22 April 2010). "Melbourne Storm stripped of two rugby league titles over salary cap fraud". The Australian. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- Nicolussi, Christian (29 January 2009). "NRL coaches briefed on dual refereee system, content with concept". Fox Sports News (Australia). Retrieved 16 July 2009.
- Kilgallon, Steve (10 April 2011). "Kiwi TV viewers go cold on rugby codes". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
- Magnay, Jaquelin (5 September 2009). "Dragons finish on top with a gallop". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
- Proszenko, Adrian (6 May 2012). "Gallen set to smash record". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- 2009 sees largest crowd figures in history.
- NRL.com – Official site of the NRL, National Rugby League