By Buford Balony
Wests Tigers superstar five-eighth and New Zealand Test captain Benji Marshall has received one of the game’s greatest accolades in winning the 2010 Rugby League Golden Boot Award.
Now in its 25th year, the prestigious award is presented to the game’s greatest international player. Marshall beat fellow nominees Shaun Kenny Dowall (NZ), Paul Gallen (Australia), James Graham (England), Billy Slater (Australia) and Sam Thaiday (Australia).
“To win this award, after coming back from three shoulder reconstructions, winning the Four Nations, and having my best ever year since I’ve started in the NRL, is pretty overwhelming,’’ Marshall said.
“I’m pretty excited. It is something I definitely won’t take for granted.”
The voting panel included three former Golden Boot winners in Wally Lewis, Hugh McGahan and Stacey Jones, former Great Britain international Garry Schofield, former England Rugby League coach Phil Larder, ex NSW coach turned broadcaster Phil Gould, former France coach Louis Bonnery, as well as journalists and supporters from both hemispheres.
In announcing the winner, Rugby League World magazine editor John Drake declared Marshall a dominant victor.
“It was a landslide victory for Benji Marshall who achieved maximum points from 11 of the 13 members of the voting panel,’’ Drake said.
“The Golden Boot award recognises a whole year of performances at domestic and international level.
“Benji’s match-winning performance in the biggest game of the season, the Four Nations final against Australia, proved his undoubted class. The very best players produce their very best performances on the biggest stages.”
Marshall was a key figure in Wests Tigers reaching the preliminary final in 2010, having played every game this season. He is contracted to the Wests Tigers until the end of the 2015 season, making him ‘a Tiger for life’.
Wests Tigers and Australian Coach Tim Sheens said Marshall had to overcome some hurdles this year.
“I’m delighted for Benji and it is richly deserved,’’ Sheens said.
“Things were not always going his way. There was a time in the middle of the season when people were on his back and the pressure was really on him.
“To come through that and win this award is a credit to him and it exemplifies his determination and perseverance to get the job done.”
Previous Golden Boot winners:
1984 Wally Lewis (Australia)
1985 Brett Kenny (Australia)
1986 Garry Jack (Australia)
1987 Hugh McGahan (New Zealand) & Peter Sterling (Australia)
1988 Ellery Hanley (Great Britain)
1989 Mal Meninga (Australia)
1990-1998 No award given
1999 Andrew Johns (Australia)
2000 Brad Fittler (Australia)
2001 Andrew Johns (Australia)
2002 Stacey Jones (New Zealand)
2003 Darren Lockyer (Australia)
2004 Andrew Farrell (Great Britain)
2005 Anthony Minichiello (Australia)
2006 Darren Lockyer (Australia)
2007 Cameron Smith (Australia)
2008 Billy Slater (Australia)
2009 Greg Inglis (Australia)
Buford Balony says: To Russell Crowe.
I remember you saying a few weeks ago that Greg Inglis was the LeBron James of Rugby League. I wrote that Benji Marshall was the only one you could compare to him & amazingly he just won the Golden Boot award. Russell stick to being an overpaid actor in crappy movies & leave sports to us award winning sports writers.