Australian Captain Cameron Smith and New Zealand Kiwi Ferns star forward Teuila Fotu-Moala have received the prestigious individual international player awards today (Wednesday) at the official Rugby League World Cup 2017 Grand Final luncheon at the Sofitel Brisbane attended by all four finals teams.
The Australian hooker narrowly edged out Tongan forward Jason Taumalolo with England winger Jermaine McGillvary being named in 3rd place for the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) Golden Boot Award.
The presentation of the RLIF Golden Boot was made by RLIF Chairman Nigel Wood and caps an outstanding year for Smith who has led the undefeated Australian team with distinction, winning his 50th cap for the Kangaroos during 2017.
Smith also won the 2017 Dally M Medal, 11 years after winning his first Medal, and led the Melbourne Storm to the NRL Premiership. He has been an ever-present force in the Australia team during 2017, kicking 24 goals to date in the 2017 World Cup and surpassed Clive Churchill's record for most consecutive Tests.
RLIF Chairman Nigel Wood said: “Cameron has secured his place as one of the greats in the history of Rugby League.
“His outstanding performances edged out Jason Taumalolo whose performances in this World Cup played a major role in the excitement and colour which Tonga brought to the 2017 World Cup.
“Cameron is a deserving recipient of the Golden Boot and is recognised by his peers and followers of our sport as a truly exceptional player.
“I join the nominations panel and my colleagues on the RLIF Board in congratulating Cameron.”
The presentation of the Women’s World Cup Player of the Tournament was made by RLIF Chief Executive David Collier to the New Zealand star forward Teuila Fotu-Moala.
Fotu-Moala has scored three tries in three games but it is the strength of her defence which has shone the spotlight on her performances.
Nicknamed “Jukebox” by former Australian captain Darren Lockyer, because “the hits keep coming”, she is among the leaders in most statistical categories per game in the World Cup - 3rd for run metres, 3rd for line-breaking assists, 5th for tackle breaks, 2nd for post-contact metres and 6th for line-engaged runs.
Teulia was also named New Zealand Women’s Player of the Year in 2017, establishing her as one of the top female players in the world game.
Collier said: “Teuila has been devastating in both attack and defence and is a punishing runner of the football.
“She has laid the foundation for the Ferns’ outstanding run in the tournament and has been the leading forward in the competition.
“I thank the broadcaster of the women’s event for their role in the nominations process and Rugby League World Cup 2017 for their delivery of the first Women’s World Cup held in parallel with the men’s competition which has significantly enhanced the development of women’s Rugby League.
“I join the Board of the RLIF in congratulating Teuila on this well-deserved award.”
Rugby League fans in Brisbane will be able to see both Smith and Fotu-Moala in action when the double-header World Cup Finals between Australia and New Zealand (women) and Australia and England (men) are held on Saturday at Brisbane Stadium on Saturday (2 December). Tickets are available from www.rlwc2017.com