Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has branded the Golden Boot ‘ridiculous’ and declared that it should be awarded to ‘the best player in the world’ after this year’s nominations were announced today.
It is the second time Fittler has questioned the credibility of the award after English winger Tommy Makinson won it in 2018 when the criteria was rejigged from recognising all achievements in Rugby League to international games only.
Previous winners of the award include some of the biggest superstars of the game including Fittler, Immortals Mal Meninga, Wally Lewis and Andrew Johns, Darren Lockyer, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston.
Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues Damien Cook and Payne Haas have been shortlisted for this year’s awards alongside Siosiua Taukeiaho and Tuimoala Lolohea from Tonga, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves from New Zealand, John Bateman from England, and Viliame Kikau, Kevin Naiqama and Brandon Wakeman from Fiji.
More players can be added to the shortlist, or players already nominated can push their claims even further with Great Britain (2), Papua New Guinea (2), New Zealand (1) and Fiji (1) still having Tests to come.
Speaking before the nominations were released, Fittler said James Tedesco would be a worthy candidate after a standout season which saw him claim the Wally Lewis Medal, the Brad Fittler Medal and the Dally M Medal. The Sydney Roosters fullback didn't make the shortlist after a quiet international series.
“I think it’s ridiculous, I think it should be the best player in the world,” Fittler told Five with Freddy for nswrl.com.au
“Anyway, that’s for someone else to decide, that’s not my decision.
“Good luck to all those out there who are candidates for the Golden Boot.
“I think James Tedesco has had an incredible season but I’m biased and live in the southern hemisphere.
“I don’t really see much of the English competition and how they’re going so good luck to whoever gets the Golden Boot.”
Fittler said that based on the current criteria a player from Tonga deserved to win the award after they went through 2019 unbeaten with wins over Samoa, Great Britain and Australia.
“I just read something about when the English winger won the Golden Boot and I’m not sure that’s the right way to go,” Fittler said.
“If I take all the internationals into consideration I think you’d have to say that someone from Tonga will be the Golden Boot winner.
“(Michael) Jennings played really well for them in the first game, the second game I think they all played well so you’ve got to say it will most likely come down to someone from Tonga.
“They beat England, they beat Australia, they had a fantastic rep series this year.”