Great Britain legends Adrian Morley and James Graham have been selected to be on the panel to decide the winner of the prestigious men’s IRL Golden Boot award-and they will decide the fate of English halfback Harry Smith, who has made the final four.
The pair have both represented England and Great Britain or more than 50 occasions, and are just two of nine players to get past this milestone.
The rest of the men’s panel is made up of Darren Lockyer, Ruben Wiki and Adam Blair.
In a statement, IRL Chair Troy Grant said: “The IRL Golden Boot is one of the oldest and most highly regarded awards in rugby league, so it is fitting that some of the giants of the international game decide the winners.”
He added: “Having former players of such standing choose the men’s and women’s international player of the year adds to the prestige of the IRL Golden Boot and we thank them for their support of the award.”
The panel will decide the fate of Wigan Warriors halfback Harry Smith, as he has made the final four following his Man of the Series display in England’s whitewash over Tonga.
He is amongst some of the biggest names in the sport, as New Zealand pair James Fisher-Harris and Joe Tapine are included, as well as Australian prop Payne Haas; but the inclusion of fellow Brits Graham and Morley on the judging panel could swing the vote in Smith’s favour.
Another potential reason Harry Smith could win the prestigious award is the fact a forward hasn’t won the award for over 20 years, with the last player to do so being former Wigan Warriors legend Andy Farrell. This gives Harry Smith a reasonable edge over his competition, as he is the only back amongst the four nominees.
He would also become just the sixth English player to win the award, and would be the first to do so since Tommy Makinson back in 2018. If Smith does win the award, it could cause a stir down under-as was the case when Makinson won the award-however it could be justified with Smith putting in three stellar performances against Tonga during the Autumn series.
Smith was the standout player from the three match series with Tonga, and he scored a staggering 22 points across the games-to put that into context Tonga only scored 26 in the series-and he could see himself rewarded further for his displays, as he could be crowned the best in the world.