Australian halfback Cooper Cronk has named player of the Four Nations.
After winning the final at Anfield, Cronk stressed the importance of the work done by everybody in the coaching and playing staff.
“It’s a tremendous honour and it reflects the team’s performance over the whole tournament,” he said.
“Mal’s done an excellent job and so has the entire 24-man squad in accomplishing the things we wanted to achieve.”
Cronk, 32, also described this campaign as one of the most satisfying.
“It has been one of the most enjoyable tours, both on and off the field,” he said.
“We have had some good comradery but we have played some pretty good football as well.”
Cronk reserved special praise for Australian winger Blake Ferguson, who was awarded the Harry Sunderland Medal.
The Kangaroos secured an emphatic 34-8 victory against New Zealand and moved ahead of the Kiwis, in terms of most Four Nations titles won with three.
“For a guy that has had his past and then for him to play his first year of international football and receive that medal,” Cronk said.
“It is a massive individual honour in our game and the Australian Kangaroos know exactly how highly regarded that is.
“He was tremendous at the back of the field, not only in the May test but throughout this whole tournament.”
“The World Cup is 12 months away and there are a lot of guys aspiring to be in the best 24 that represent your country,” Cronk said.
“There are a lot of things to be done before that event but I am very much looking forward to what the future holds in the Australia jersey.”
Cronk also spoke of the morals that Australia head coach Mal Meninga has instilled since taking up the role.
“Mal’s brought this dimension of respecting the past and playing for the future,” he said.
“We are carrying the baton for guys who laid the foundations a 100 years ago and with that comes a lot of pride and passion.
“Hopefully the guys watching back in Australia in the early hours of the morning are proud of the Kangaroos.”
Slater, who is one of Cronk’s teammates at the Storm, has been out for the past two seasons because of a shoulder injury.
“Billy [Slater] will go down in history as arguably the best fullback the game has ever seen,” he said.
“As a close friend I have seen his progress and his battles over the last couple of years.
“If I was a gambling man I would say Billy Slater would be back to his best next year.”