The nominations are out for the 2019 Golden Boot award – and NSW State of Origin coach Brad Fittler is not impressed.
Fittler claims it’s “ridiculous” that the prestigious title only acknowledges the best international of the season, saying it should reward the player of the year.
Sydney Roosters’ Origin series winning NSW fullback and Kangaroos No.1 James Tedesco is a glaring omission from the men’s shortlist despite claiming back to back NRL titles along with the Dally M Medal and RLPA Player of the Year honours.
The only Kangaroos in line for the best player honour are lively South Sydney hooker Damien Cook and teenaged Brisbane Broncos prop Payne Haas.
Fittler clearly disagrees with the Boot’s selection criteria.
“I think it is ridiculous. I think it should be the best player in the world but that is for someone else to decide – it’s not my decision,” Fittler said.
“The English winger (Tommy Makinson) won last year’s award … I’m not sure that’s the right way to go.”
Off-contract Sydney Roosters prop Sio Siua Taukeiaho is also among the nominees for the Golden Boot set to be awarded next month by the International Rugby League (IRL).
He joins fellow Tongan international Tui Lolohea on the shortlist after being recognised for their performances in the Oceania Cup, which includes the Mate Ma’a’s historic victory over Australia following a win over the Great Britain Lions.
New Zealand also have two contenders in fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and front-rower Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
John Bateman is Great Britain’s sole representative while Fiji have three players – Viliame Kikau, Kevin Naiqama and Brandon Wakeman.
Asked for his early tip, Fittler said: “If I take all the internationals into consideration, I think you’d have to say someone from Tonga would be the Golden Boot winner.
“(Centre) Michael Jennings played well in their first game (for Tonga) and in the second they all played well so you would have to say it would come to be a Tongan – they beat England and Australia,” he said.
“They have had a fantastic year.”
A women’s award will also be announced with Australian Jillaroos pair Jess Sergis and Ali Brigginshaw in the mix.
GOLDEN BOOT SHORT LIST:
John Bateman (Great Britain)
Damien Cook (Australia)
Payne Haas (Australia)
Viliame Kikau (Fiji)
Tui Lolohea (Tonga)
Kevin Naiqama (Fiji)
Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Tonga)
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand)
Jared Waerea-HargreavesNew Zealand)