Australia players dominate the field in the running for the prestigious Rugby League International Federation International Player of the Year Awards which take place at the historic Tower of London tomorrow (Wednesday November 2).
The Kangaroos have two players on the shortlist for International Player of the Year, Melbourne Storm full-back Billy Slater and his club-mate Cameron Smith, who are joined by New Zealand’s captain Benji Marshall, the Wests Tigers stand-off.
The two winning coaches of the Super League and NRL Grand Finals, Brian McDermott of Leeds Rhinos and Manly Sea Eagles’ Des Hasler, are shortlisted for Coach of the Year alongside Craig Bellamy of Melbourne Storm.
Rookies are deemed to be players who were under 21 at the start of the voting period – October 4, 2010 to October 8, 2011 – and who made their full international debut in that time. No Super League players met the criteria for 2011 Rookie of the Year.
The massive depth of talent on both sides of the world is illustrated in the shortlists for International Team of the Year, which features nine positions.
The RLIF International Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Team of the Year awards are determined by a secret ballot of a 20-strong selection panel, 10 from each hemisphere comprising former players and coaches, journalists and broadcasters.
England and Australia are represented in the shortlist for Referee of the Year, which features current Gillette Four Nations referees Phil Bentham (England) and Matt Cecchin (Australia) plus Tony Archer of Australia.
The RLIF will also announce the 22 winners of the Nations’ Players of the Year and make a special presentation, the 2011 Spirit of Rugby League Award, to an individual who is deemed to have made a significant contribution to the game in their lifetime.
The shortlists for the 2011 RLIF International Player of the Year awards in full are as follows:
Rookie of the Year
Referee of the Year
Tony Archer (Australia)
Phil Bentham (England)
Matt Cecchin (Australia)
Coach of the Year
Craig Bellamy (Melbourne Storm)
Des Hasler (Manly Sea Eagles)
Brian McDermott (Leeds Rhinos)
Full-back of the Year
Matt Bowen (North Queensland Cowboys)
Winger of the Year
Akuila Uate (Newcastle Knights)
Centre of the Year
Willie Tonga (North Queensland Cowboys)
Stand-off of the Year
Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles)
Scrum-half of the Year
Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys)
Prop of the Year
Matt Scott (North Queensland)
Hooker of the Year
Issac Luke (South Sydney)
Second row of the Year
Tariq Sims (North Queensland Cowboys)
Loose forward of the Year
Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors)
Player of the Year