England star Harry Smith has made the final four-man shortlist for the 2023 IRL Golden Boot award, which includes players from Australia and New Zealand.
The Wigan Warriors half-back could become the first English player since Tommy Makinson in 2018 to win the IRL Golden Boot award, which recognises the best player in sanctioned international matches each year.
Smith is up against New Zealand forward pair James Fisher-Harris and Joseph Tapine as well as Australia powerhouse Payne Haas for the award – with the trio in line to become the first running forward to win the Golden Boot since Great Britain legend Andy Farrell in 2004.
Smith inspired England to a 3-0 whitewash win over Tonga in the autumn’s test series, whilst Fisher-Harris and Tapine helped the Kiwis inflict a 30-0 defeat on the Kangaroos in the inaugural Pacific Cup final.
The men’s 2023 IRL Golden Boot shortlist was chosen by a panel comprising of Golden Cap recipients Adam Blair, James Graham, Darren Lockyer, Adrian Morley and Ruben Wiki, who have each won more than 50 international caps.
Kiwi Ferns trio up for women’s award alongside Jillaroos star
The women’s Golden Boot winner will be selected by Australia great Karyn Murphy, former New Zealand dual-code international Honey Hireme-Smiler and England star turned pundit Danika Priim.
England, France stars up for Wheelchair Golden Boot
The judges of the wheelchair award are Malcom Kielty (England) and Robert Fassolette (France), two key figures in the wheelchair format, along with Martin Coyd and long-serving administrator Niel Wood, who has been a member of IRL’s wheelchair rugby league advisory committee.
IRL chair congratulates the 10 shortlisted players
IRL chair Troy Grant said: “The IRL Golden Boot is one of the game’s most prestigious awards and any of the nominated players would be a worthy winner.
“In recent weeks we have seen all three of last year’s World Cup winners – the Kangaroos, Jillaroos and England Wheelchair team – beaten, and this shows how closely contested the international game is.
“That is reflected in the nominations for the 2023 Golden Boot and there is no clear-cut candidate for any of the awards.
“On behalf of the IRL, I would like to thank the panels of former greats of our game, and those who have made a significant contribution to the development of Wheelchair Rugby League, for their involvement in helping to choose the 2023 international player of the year.”
When will the winners be announced?
The winners of the 2023 IRL men’s, women’s and wheelchair Golden Boot awards will be announced in early December.
The 2022 IRL Golden Boot winners were New Zealand’s Joey Manu and Raecene McGregor and England wheelchair star Sebastien Bechara.