But following the Sydney Roosters' 26-18 grand final victory on Sunday night, it was only the boos of Roosters fans which rained down on Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans as he ascended the podium to accept the honour.
Perhaps it should've gone to Sonny Bill Williams, for his enormous effort to drag the Roosters home in the final 20 minutes.
Or maybe five-eighth James Maloney, who set up three tries and whose radar boot kicked five goals from five attempts.
Even Daniel Tupou, who soared high for the Roosters' first try, would have raised fewer eyebrows if he'd been called onstage.
Sure, wingers don't win awards but he was not only as safe as a bank under the high ball - his mere presence spooked Manly's David Williams into an error-riddled effort when the bombs went up.
But the award was handed to a bloke from the losing team for just the third time in 27 years, prompting boos which earned the ire of Roosters coach Trent Robinson who had no time for the classless hecklers.
"I thought it was disappointing (from) the crowd at that time. He's a courageous player and he deserved to win it as well," said Robinson.
The diminutive No.7 made two crucial line breaks shortly after halftime to shift the momentum of the game and give the Sea Eagles a 10-point advantage.
At the time, it looked like it could've been match-winning. Ultimately, it was only medal-winning.
Naturally, he said it did very little to dull the pain of defeat.
"Obviously a very bittersweet moment. I'd definitely swap that for a premiership ring," admitted a surprised Cherry-Evans.
In doing so, Cherry-Evans became just the third player to claim the man-of-the-match honours in a losing effort, along with Canberra's Brad Clyde in 1991 and St George's Brad Mackay in 1993.
It's a rare feat, and something to be proud of, but one his coach Geoff Toovey said he expected the crafty 24-year-old to be a touch shamed by.
"Daly's probably a bit embarrassed by it but he had a fantastic game and he deserves it," Toovey said after the game.
"It's just reward for him tonight."