Ferguson Awarded Kangaroos' Top Honour
Cooper Cronk may have been crowned the official Player of the Four Nations but his Kangaroos teammate Blake Ferguson was awarded the Harry Sunderland Medal as Australia's player of the series.
If not for Josh Mansour's ACL injury Ferguson would've likely been overlooked for Australia's past three Tests, but the Roosters star defied all criticism of his selection in Mal Meninga's squad with a string of excellent displays.
Ferguson responded from his initial dumping by putting in a man-of-the-match performance against New Zealand three weeks ago and has remained as strong ever since.
"I must say, I have to give a compliment to Blake Ferguson," Cronk said after Australia's win in the Four Nations final.
"The Harry Sunderland Medal is one of the best individual honours in our game. It's so highly regarded.
"For a guy who has had his past and to then play his first year of international football, he was tremendous throughout the year. Congratulations to him because he's a well-deserved recipient.
"It's one of the best things about representing your country is that you get to play with people you wouldn't normally throughout your NRL career."
Kangaroos skipper Cameron Smith praised the entire 24-man squad for Australia's faultless changing of the guard under new coach Meninga.
Every member of Australia's squad was able to play at least one match in the tournament, with the likes of Matt Moylan, Jake Friend, James Maloney and Jake Trbojevic making their debuts on the international stage.
"There's been a lot of new players this year and obviously a new coaching staff but the transition has been seamless," Smith said.
"We spoke before the May Test against New Zealand about what it meant to play for Australia and the way you go about things. The entire squad has bought right into that.
"We've mentioned several of the values this squad stands for now throughout the tournament. It's been one of the happiest, content and tight-knit groups I've been involved in. It showed with our results throughout the entire tournament."
Meninga hopes the entire squad can get through the 2017 Telstra Premiership season intact ahead of next year's World Cup.
"I know the players have really enjoyed this tour," Meninga said.
"Hopefully they're still fresh enough to go back home and apply themselves into next year. I have my fingers crossed all these fellas will get through the year unscathed."
One player who will have to undergo recovery in the immediate aftermath of the Four Nations is Josh Dugan.
Dugan suffered a small strain to his medial ligament in the dying stages of the Kangaroos' 34-8 victory against the Kiwis at Anfield.
This article first appeared on NRL.com