Andrew Voss and Greg Alexander have been left baffled after Kangaroos prop Payne Haas made the Golden Boot nominations, despite having played in just two games for Australia. Haas was a powerhouse in the NRL this year having helped the Broncos reach the grand final.
Solid in the Blues' State of Origins series loss, Haas was rewarded and selected for Mal Meninga's Kangaroos team as the world champs set out to win the Pacific Championship. However, Haas only played two games. Haas featured against Samoa in the Kangaroos dominant victory in the group stage.
Haas was rested against New Zealand in the 36-18 win in the group stage. And returned for the final. And Haas was outplayed as New Zealand left Australia shellshocked with a 30-0 victory to lift the trophy.
Haas and the forward pack were utterly dominated in the loss, which resulted in plenty of backlash for Meninga's Kangaroos team. And in a surprising move, Haas has been nominated for the Golden Boot award for the best player in international rugby league.
The award traditionally rewarded club and representative form until 2018, which saw it hand more weight to international rugby league. Nominees included England halfback Harry Smith, New Zealand internationals James Fisher-Harris and Joseph Tapine and Haas.
There is no doubt Haas is one of the premier forwards in rugby league. Although the decision to include Haas in the golden boot nominations left NRL commentator Voss staggered. “Payne Haas only played two Tests,” Voss said on SEN Radio. “How does he get a nomination? This is a farce. He sat out the second game (of the Pacific Championship) and played in the final where his team lost 30-0.
“In the final, Haas ran for the least amount of metres in a game this year. How does he get nominated? How does this award now fly with any integrity whatsoever? This is a farce. Whoever runs the Golden Boot, there needs to be a hint of transparency.”
Greg Alexander questions Golden Boot awards integrity
Haas' inclusion also left Penrith great Alexander dumfounded. He questioned what the award now stood for if Haas is making the list after just two games, which involved a heavy defeat in one. “The Golden Boot has lost its meaning,” Alexander added.
“If someone can win an award and play two games, one of which they were smashed (then) it takes away from what the Golden Boot used to be. How can you be the best player of the year internationally when you are being judged off two or three games? It needs to be revamped.”
Before the award criteria was changed in 2018, greats such as Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston had won the award. Shaun Johnson picked up the award for New Zealand before them. One fan suggested Cameron Murray or Hamiso Tibau-Fidow was a more worthy candidate from the Kangaroos if Australia needed a nomination.
Shoulda been Cam Murray or Hamiso-Tabuai-Fidow in his place.
— Ethan (@ethxn26) December 5, 2023
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