How Nicho Hynes overcame his traumatic childhood to win the Dally M – as star pays heartfelt tribute to his mum after watching her being taken away to jail as a kid
- Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes won the Dally M Medal in Sydney on Wednesday
- Hynes polled a record 38 votes after impressive debut season with Cronulla
- The 26-year-old thanked his mother – who has had numerous struggles in life
- Hynes has also opened up previously on his personal battles with mental health
Cronulla Sharks star Nicho Hynes won the Dally M Medal on Wednesday night in record-breaking fashion – and the halfback gained even more fans in rugby league circles after thanking his mother on stage.
Julie Hynes has endured plenty of hardship in her life, including stints in jail when the NRL playmaker was a child growing up on the NSW Central Coast at Umina.
But Hynes’ deep love for his mother remains, and she was also his date at rugby league’s glittering night of nights in Sydney.
Speaking on the Today show on Thursday morning – after ‘less than a couple of hours sleep’ – Hynes again emphasised just how much he appreciates having her in his life.
‘She means a lot… my whole family do,’ the 26-year-old said.
‘Mum has been a big part of why I am so lucky to have this [Dally M] Medal. ‘So has my dad, brother and stepmum…I am very grateful for their ongoing support.’
Hynes shifted from the Storm to the Sharks in the off-season, and was a revelation in the Shire.
In his first full campaign as an NRL halfback, Hynes guided Cronulla to second spot on the ladder.
He also polled a record 38 votes – the most of any player in the medal’s history.
Sydney Roosters fullback James Tedesco (33 votes) and Dragons halfback Ben Hunt (32 votes) also polled well.
In May, Hynes opened up about the pain of watching his mother being taken to jail by police when he was in primary school.
When incarcerated, Julie Hynes was stunned to discover the family’s Indigenous heritage.
A beaming Hynes recalled telling his primary school classmates the news – only to be branded a liar.
‘It was a special moment for me to say, “I’m Aboriginal”,’ the Cronulla playmaker recalled.
‘But straight away, they all said “bulls**t, you aren’t black” … it hurt like hell.’
Hynes endured a testing childhood, with his parents splitting when was a toddler – and then his stepfather died in a truck accident when he fell asleep at the wheel.
With Ms Hynes in and out of jail, Nicho lived with his father Mick Wilson and brother Wade.
Seeing officers place his mother in the back of a paddy wagon as a youngster is an image unlikely to ever leave his mind.
Julie Hynes is pictured with her two boys, Wade and Nicholas, when they lived on the NSW Central Coast
NRL star Nicho Hynes is the type of person who always looks for a silver lining in life – and in his case, it was his mum discovering the family’s Indigenous heritage when she was in jail
It resulted in plenty of tears and questions, but Hynes holds no resentment towards his mother.
And when she returned from another stint in prison armed with news of the family roots, the Sharks half was all ears.
‘Other women [inside] taught Mum about our heritage,’ Hynes told the Daily Telegraph.
‘I learned of my grandfather, a proud Aboriginal man.
‘It was great…mum came home and openly spoke about our Indigenous background for the first time.’
Hynes is proud of his Aboriginal heritage and equally happy to be a role model
Hynes joined Cronulla from Melbourne in the off-season and guided the Sharks to second spot on the ladder this year
He soon discovered the family are tied to Griffith and the Wiradjuri people – the largest nation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.
Hynes wanted to scream the news from the rooftops, such was his pride of the Darkinjung and Mingaletta clans in the area – only to be again shot down by his peers.
To this day, Hynes regrets not speaking up – and now, as an NRL footballer, he knows his voice will be heard.
‘Rugby league has given me a platform to go out and express who I am,’ he said.
‘We get to share who we are and pave the way for the next generation.’