In case you haven’t seen already, last night we released the shortlist for the 2014 Golden Boot, to coincide with the release of December’s edition of Rugby League World magazine (which you can buy NOW by clicking the image below!).
The shortlist, which is compiled after the final game of the calendar year, features defending champion Jonathan Thurston, who is bidding to become the first player to win the historic award three times. Elsewhere, Four Nations star Shaun Johnson is nominated, alongside New Zealand forward Jesse Bromwich.
There are two Australians nominated too, with South Sydney full-back Greg Inglis nominated alongside his Kangaroos teammate Thurston. And as well as the two Australians and Kiwis, there are two Englishmen on the shortlist – with Canterbury forward James Graham selected alongside Sam Burgess.
It is arguably the strongest shortlist in Golden Boot history, with all six players having a realistic claim to win the title, which will be announced in the next edition of Rugby League World, alongside the traditional World XIII team. Therefore, we’ve decided to tell you why each candidate on the list has a great chance of winning – underlining just how strong this year’s list is. The only thing left is for you to tell us who your favourite is – by tweeting us! If you aren’t following us already – click on the Twitter account of your choice below.
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Bromwich was undoubtedly the star forward of the entire Four Nations – with his stats making for dazzling reading. Making 150 metres in the final alone, Bromwich has asserted himself as one of the top forwards in world rugby, with his club form for Melbourne all season attracting rave reviews.
Arguably one of the hot favourites for the 2014 Golden Boot, Johnson has been nominated off the back of some exceptional performances in the Four Nations. With the Kiwis getting their hands on the trophy after defeating Australia in the final, Johnson’s performances made a huge impact on Stephen Kearney’s men throughout the series. Could he be the man that wins the Golden Boot?
Given how the Golden Boot is primarily judged on international performances, the inclusion of Sam Burgess on the Golden Boot shortlist may come as a surprise for some. However, it was impossible to leave the Englishman out after his inspirational performances for South Sydney in the NRL. His performance in the final – when he suffered a horrific facial injury in the first tackle of the game – will go down as one of the finest individual performances in NRL Grand Final history.
Graham continues to be regarded as one of the finest props in the world, after another incredible year for both club and country. A cornerstone of both England and Canterbury’s pack, Graham has more than a good chance of being selected by the Golden Boot’s expert panel.
Defending champion Thurston is in the hunt for another Golden Boot, and as mentioned, he could become the first player to win the award three times. He didn’t feature in the Four Nations, but like Burgess, his performances at club level have been nothing short of sensational in 2014.
There are many who believe Inglis is now the best player in the world – and after watching him for South Sydney and Australia in 2014, it could be hard to disagree with that. Arguably the most athletic and dynamic player in the world of Rugby League, Inglis will be a popular selection by many for the Golden Boot.