Why rugby league needs to make this change to the Golden Boot award

This week, Sydney Roosters and New Zealand star Joseph Manu picked up the Golden Boot award after his brilliant performances in the Rugby League World Cup helping the Kiwis make it to the semi-finals only just coming up short against Australia at Elland Road.

Manu beat out the likes of Warrington Wolves star George Williams, Samoa superstar Jarome Luai, Leigh Leopards man Edwin Ipape as well as further England duo Tom Burgess and Victor Radley.

What made this even more interesting is the fact that two of his Sydney Roosters teammates have also been starring at fullback for their countries and are set to lead their team in the final as James Tedesco skippers Australia on Saturday and Joseph Suaali’i looks to underline his huge potential.

You can make plenty of arguments about whether Manu deserves the honour especially with Josh Addo-Carr equalling the record for tries in a tournament with a game to spare and Luai really shining.

But the change I’m proposing today has nothing to do with the reasons behind his selection as the winner.

In fact it is best summarised by the last two English winners of the award. In 2018, Tommy Makinson was the latest English winner of the award as the St Helens star caused New Zealand nightmares in a three match series.

The last English winner before that was Leeds Rhinos Kevin Sinfield. When he picked up the award, the honour was still being given to the player who had had the best individual year in the sport with Sinfield picking up the honour for his role in guiding the Rhinos to Grand Final glory.

In the six years between the award changed to being given to the best player in the international game alone.

This has ensured that rugby league has no equivalent to the ballon d’or in football which is a massive loss for rugby league.

Marketed correctly and with contenders from both sides of the rugby league world up against each other vying for the award could create a real buzz.

Imagine a discussion of whether Jonny Lomax’s heroics for St Helens in 2022 deserved to top the magic of Luai in Penrith’s title success and Samoa’s journey to the World Cup Final.

When the nominees for the ballon d’or are released, there is so much debate and that could be the same for rugby league if the Golden Boot reverted back to the way it was and had five nominees from Super League and the NRL based on player performance but their role in guiding their team to success.

Rugby league needs an award like this to help bring the rugby league world together and cause debate and discussion which is something the sport always needs.

It would also be a massive marketing tool as well in both the NRL and Super League as both organisations would be able to say they have officially the best player in the world in their side.

Being able to say someone is officially the best is a big deal and something absent in the sport at present.

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