|1994 New South Wales Rugby League|
|Premiers||Canberra (3rd title)|
|Minor premiers||Canterbury-Bankstown (6th title)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Daryl Halligan (270)|
|Player of the year||David Fairleigh (Rothmans Medal)|
|Top try-scorer(s)||Steve Renouf (23)|
The 1994 NSWRL season (known as the 1994 Winfield Cup Premiership due to sponsorship from Winfield) was the eighty-seventh season of professional rugby league football in Australia. Sixteen clubs competed for the J J Giltinan Shield during the season, which culminated in a grand final match for the Winfield Cup trophy between the Canberra Raiders and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
On the first of June, the previous season's premiers, the Broncos played in the 1994 World Club Challenge match in Brisbane against British champions Wigan. Wigan defeated the Broncos 20 to 14 at ANZ Stadium in front of 54,220 spectators. On 14 July the North Sydney Bears were fined $87,000 for breaching the salary cap. In total, twenty-two regular season rounds were played from March till August, resulting in a top five of Canterbury-Bankstown, North Sydney, Canberra, Manly-Warringah and Brisbane who went on to battle it out in the finals. The 1994 season's Rothmans Medallist was North Sydney forward David Fairleigh. The Dally M Award went to Manly-Warringah's five-eighth, Cliff Lyons who was also named as Rugby League Week's player of the year. 1994 was the last premiership season to be administered by the New South Wales Rugby League. At the end of the season control of the Winfield Cup would be passed on to the Australian Rugby League and re-branded as such, as part of the move to become a more national competition. This season was also the last in the Premiership for future Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame inductee and coach, Mal Meninga. At the end of the 1994 season a squad of players from the NSWRL Premiership went on the 1994 Kangaroo tour.
The lineup of teams remained unchanged from the previous season, with sixteen clubs contesting the premiership, including five inner Sydney-based foundation teams, another six from greater Sydney, two from greater New South Wales, two from Queensland, and one from the Australian Capital Territory.
In 1994 the League and its advertising agency Hertz Walpole returned to the original 1989 recording of "The Best" by Tina Turner to underscore the season launch ad. Footage had been shot of Turner's performance at the 1993 Grand Final and a studio bluescreen shoot also took place during that visit ensuring a store of images that could be used in flexible adaptations for the final two years of Turner's association with the competition and the Winfield Cup.
The 1994 advertisement used the performance and superimposed studio footage of Turner into crowd and stadium scenes that replicated the Sydney Football Stadium. The closing scenes of the commercial made it appear that Turner was singing the song high up in the Sydney Football Stadium's stands in front of its identifiable stretched-sail roofing.
|2||North Sydney Bears||22||17||1||4||517||291||+226||35|
|3||Canberra Raiders (P)||22||17||0||5||677||298||+379||34|
|4||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||22||16||1||5||605||311||+294||33|
|9||South Sydney Rabbitohs||22||9||1||12||401||569||-168||19|
|11||St. George Dragons||22||9||0||13||386||497||-111||18|
|13||Western Suburbs Magpies||22||6||2||14||439||650||-211||14|
|14||Eastern Suburbs Roosters||22||6||1||15||344||513||-169||13|
|15||Gold Coast Seagulls||22||5||1||16||363||618||-255||11|
- Numbers highlighted in green indicate that the team finished the round inside the top 5.
- Numbers highlighted in blue indicates the team finished first on the ladder in that round.
- Numbers highlighted in red indicates the team finished last place on the ladder in that round.
|2||North Sydney Bears||2||4||6||8||10||12||14||14||14||14||15||17||19||21||23||25||27||29||31||33||33||35|
|4||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||0||1||3||5||5||7||7||9||11||13||15||17||19||21||23||23||25||27||29||31||33||33|
|9||South Sydney Rabbitohs||0||0||0||1||3||3||5||7||9||11||13||15||17||17||17||19||19||19||19||19||19||19|
|11||St. George Dragons||2||2||4||6||8||10||10||10||10||10||10||10||12||12||14||14||14||14||16||16||18||18|
|13||Western Suburbs Magpies||2||4||4||4||4||4||4||5||5||5||6||8||8||10||10||10||12||12||12||14||14||14|
|14||Eastern Suburbs Roosters||0||0||0||0||2||4||6||7||7||7||7||7||7||7||7||9||9||11||11||11||11||13|
|15||Gold Coast Seagulls||1||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||5||5||7||7||7||7||7||7||7||9||11||11||11||11|
|Date and Time||Venue||Referee||Crowd|
|North Sydney Bears||12-26||Canberra Raiders||3 September 1994||Sydney Football Stadium||Bill Harrigan||33,641|
|Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||4-16||Brisbane Broncos||4 September 1994||Sydney Football Stadium||Greg McCallum||34,891|
|North Sydney Bears||15-14||Brisbane Broncos||10 September 1994||Sydney Football Stadium||Bill Harrigan||36,011|
|Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs||19-18||Canberra Raiders||11 September 1994||Sydney Football Stadium||Greg McCallum||41,865|
|Canberra Raiders||22-9||North Sydney Bears||18 September 1994||Sydney Football Stadium||Greg McCallum||41,941|
|Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs||12-36||Canberra Raiders||25 September 1994||Sydney Football Stadium||Greg McCallum||42,234|
|Qualifying/Elimination Final||Major/Minor Semi Final||Preliminary Final||Grand Final|
|Scott Wilson||FB||Brett Mullins|
|Jason Williams||WG||Ken Nagas|
|Steven Hughes||CE||Mal Meninga (c)|
|Jarrod McCracken||CE||Ruben Wiki|
|Darryl Halligan||WG||Noa Nadruku|
|Terry Lamb (c)||FE||Laurie Daley|
|Craig Polla-Mounter||HB||Ricky Stuart|
|Darren Britt||PR||Quentin Pongia|
|Jason Hetherington||HK||Steve Walters|
|Martin Bella||PR||Paul Osborne|
|Dean Pay||SR||David Furner|
|Jason Smith||SR||Jason Croker|
|Jim Dymock||LK||Bradley Clyde|
|Matthew Ryan||Reserve||Brett Hetherington|
|Steve Price||Reserve||David Westley|
|Chris Anderson||Coach||Tim Sheens|
The Canberra Raiders were confident in the lead up, despite their one-point loss to the Bulldogs in the Major Semi-final, and everything played into their hands from the whistle. Canterbury veteran prop Martin Bella dropped the ball from the kick-off and before too long Canberra had posted two tries.
Canberra legend Mal Meninga was given a champion's farewell as his "Green Machine" swamped the Bulldogs. Canberra's Paul Osborne also enjoyed a fairytale day. On the outer for most of the year, Osborne won a reprieve, playing at Prop after team-mate John Lomax was suspended for a high tackle in the Preliminary Final against North Sydney. Osborne, playing in his 135th and last career game before retirement, rose to the occasion by setting up the first two Raiders tries in the opening sixteen minutes.
Meninga's 166th and final match for the Raiders ended perfectly when he scored the last try of the day after intercepting a pass from Jason Smith. Meninga then outlasted the cover defence, running almost 40 metres and palming off his opposite Centre Jarrod McCracken to score the try beside the posts, sending the 42,234 strong crowd at the Sydney Football Stadium into raptures. Despite being a goal kicker for most of his career, Meninga declined to take what would have been an easy conversion of his own try, instead leaving the kick to regular team kicker, Clive Churchill Medallist David Furner.
The Canberra Raiders had claimed their third premiership, amassing the highest score in a Grand Final since Eastern Suburbs defeated St. George 38-0 in 1975. It was the highest-scoring Grand Final since 1951 when South Sydney defeated Manly 42-14 (though tries then were worth only three points).
Canberra Raiders 36
Tries: Nagas 2, Furner, Daley, Nadruku, Croker, Meninga
Goals: Furner 4/7
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 12
Tries: Williams, Hetherington
Goals: Halligan 2/2
- Clive Churchill Medallist: David Furner
- Referee: Greg McCallum
- Attendance: 42,234 at the Sydney Football Stadium
- 1994 J J Giltinan Shield and Winfield Cup Archived May 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine at rleague.com
- AAP (22 April 2010). "Melbourne Storm salary cap quotes". The Roar. Australia: The Roar Sports Opinion. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- "NRL Finals in the 1990s". sportal.com.au. Archived from the original on 6 December 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
- D'Souza, Miguel. "Grand Final History". wwos.ninemsn.com.au. AAP. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2013.