Brad Fittler’s comments regarding Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson is just one example of Australia’s ignorance towards international rugby league.
England and St Helens winger Makinson picked up the Golden Boot award on Wednesday, being crowned the best international player in the world.
The 27-year-old beat off competition from international team-mate Elliott Whitehead, Australia full-back James Tedesco and New Zealand captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak for the accolade.
The Golden Boot award is presented to the player who has produced the most outstanding performances in international games since last year’s World Cup final and is voted for by a panel of media members from the northern and southern hemispheres.
But Makinson winning the prestigious accolade sparked controversial comments from overseas, none more so than New South Wales coach Brad Fittler.
“I can’t believe the best player in the world is a person I’ve never seen play,” Fittler told NRL.com.
“I watched the highlights of the England game yesterday and just saw him score a couple of tries.
“That’s all I’ve ever seen of him and he’s the best player in the world? I find it ridiculous.”
Fittler’s comments are disrespectful to Makinson, who has taken a lot of unwarranted criticism since picking up the boot.
Makinson isn’t just an average player – he was the best winger in Super League in 2018, helping Saints win the League Leaders’ Shield and he was also named in Super League’s Dream Team due to his fantastic performances.
He scored on his international debut against New Zealand in Denver back in June and bagged a hat-trick, coupled with two try-savers, against the Kiwis at Anfield on Sunday.
Makinson fully deserves the award and now we have got Aussies whinging over it just because Tedesco didn’t win it, the same Tedesco that the Kangaroos didn’t select in their World Cup team last year and who then represented Italy.
Australia isn’t bothered about the international game. As long as the NRL continues to thrive, Australia are not interested. It’s a joke.
But Fittler’s views on the international game were completely different last year, when he was Lebanon coach at the World Cup. He was all for growth of the international game then.
Former England and Great Britain legend Jamie Peacock summed it up brilliantly in his column for The Mirror.
“As soon as he was given the award, I wondered how long it would be before we heard an Australian who doesn’t understand it pipe up and say they haven’t seen him play and he isn’t worthy,” he commented.
Well said, Jamie. Maybe Fittler could see Makinson live in action if the Kangaroos actually played England in an Ashes series?
The series would be a sell-out, but a lot of people in Australia prefer to see state-against-state instead. It’s quite sad, really.
The final word must go to Makinson though, who has had an incredible year for club and country. He becomes only the fifth Englishman to win the Golden Boot award after Ellery Hanley, Garry Schofield, Andy Farrell and Kevin Sinfield.
Hopefully we will see more brilliance from Makinson in 2019 and beyond.