Aaron Woods (Behind) and James Tedesco of the Tigers are clapped off by team mates after the Round 26 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the New Zealand Warriors at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney, Sunday, September 3, 2017. (AAP Image/Craig Golding)
By James Tedesco's own admission his 2017 NRL season was hit-and-miss and even he was shocked to be named the Rugby League Players' Association player of the year ahead of Cameron Smith.
The Wests Tigers fullback was on Tuesday night surprisingly announced as the game's best player as voted by his peers, outpolling the likes of Smith and last year's winner Jason Taumalolo.
Despite his side failing to make the finals, Tedesco was announced as the winner of one the game's most prestigious individual gongs at the union's awards night at The Star in Sydney.
Smith, who last weekend passed Darren Lockyer's all-time most games record when he ran out for his 356th match, was considered a shoo-in.
The Melbourne, Queensland and Australian captain is an unbackable $1.08 favourite with some bookies for the Dally M which will be announced in grand final week.
Finalists for the award also included Smith, Taumalolo, Sam Burgess, Nathan Cleary, Tom Trbojevic and Gareth Widdop.
Tedesco was widely expected to be a runner-up.
"I didin't think I was any chance," Tedesco told AAP.
"I though Cameron Smith has had a great year and he's been the best in the game for a while.
"I thought he was No.1 for it. When I heard my name I was pretty shocked but very honoured.
"It's a great compliment for me, the year for the Tigers wasn't so good. This puts a good slant on it."
The award's voting system involves all players selecting their top three players from the opposition after each match.
Tedesco joins an illustrious winners' list that includes Johnathan Thurston, Darius Boyd, Jarryd Hayne, Braith Anasta, Petero Civoniceva, Matt Bowen and Danny Buderus.
During the regular season Tedesco topped the league for tackle busts (153) and was seventh for run metres (163m per game).
Asked how he rated his 2017 season the NSW and Sydney Roosters-bound No.1 said: "It probably wasn't my greatest to be honest.
"It was hard in a struggling side at the Tigers but the last two months, for myself and as a team, we were better.
"I think there's a lot of improvement for myself, I'll be looking to do that at the Roosters next year. Hopefully I take my game to the next level."
Smith was named Australian representative player of the year and included in the RLPA team of the year while Canberra's Nick Cotric was awarded rookie of the year.
RLPA TEAM OF THE YEAR
1. James Tedesco (Wests Tigers), 2. Jordan Rapana (Canberra), 3. Konrad Hurrell (Gold Coast), 4. Dane Gagai (Newcastle), 5. David Nofoaluma (Wests Tigers), 6. Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra), 7. Nathan Cleary (Penrith), 8. Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers), 9. Cameron Smith (Melbourne), 10. David Klemmer (Canterbury), 11. Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland), 12. Wade Graham (Cronulla), 13. Sam Burgess (South Sydney).
© AAP 2017