Four NSW Blues have been nominated for the International Rugby League (IRL)’s annual Golden Boot awards for 2023.
The prestigious awards are announced at the end of the international season, which this year included the historic three-game Test series between England and Tonga, along with the Pacific Championships and Pacific Bowl competitions for men and women.
Westpac NSW Blues forwards Payne Haas and Cameron Murray are among the nominations, while Sky Blues players Tiana Penitani and Jess Sergis have been nominated for the women’s award. Sergis previously won the Golden Boot in 2019.
Former internationals Darren Lockyer (Australia), Adrian Morley (England), Ruben Wiki (New Zealand), James Graham (England) and Adam Blair (New Zealand) - among just nine players to have played 50 Tests for their country - will choose the men’s winner.
The women’s winner will be decided by Australian Jillaroos great Karyn Murphy, former New Zealand dual-code superstar Honey Hireme-Smiler, and England 2017 World Cup prop turned rugby league commentator Danika Priim.
Haas scored his first try for Australia in the Kangaroos’ 38-12 win over Samoa in Townsville last month, while making 175 metres with 95 post-contact and six tackle busts – earning him the medal for Player of the Match.
Murray scored a try in wins over Samoa and New Zealand to equal Ron Coote as the only Kangaroos forwards to score tries in six-consecutive Tests.
Murray was also presented with the Harry Sunderland Medal for being Australia’s best throughout the tournament.
Penitani is a dual international for Australia in both Rugby Sevens and for the Jillaroos but has chosen the country of her father’s heritage – Tonga – to continue her international Rugby League career. She scored twice in Tonga’s 28-10 loss to the Kiwi Ferns, who eventually won the Pacific Championships.
Sergis topped the Jillaroos for post-contact metres (66) in the 16-10 win over the Kiwi Ferns in Round One, and again (75 metres) in the 12-6 loss in the Final. The wily centre also ran for 213 metres with 18 runs in that game.
The wheelchair nominations will be announced on 25 November with all three Golden Boot winners – men, women, wheelchair – being named in early December.