By STEVE MASCORD
YOUR correspondent has a tough decision to make before Christmas – how to vote in the Golden Boot poll.
The nominees for that gong that goes to the best player in the world have been released today: Johnathan Thurston, Sonny Bill Williams, Danny Brough, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Sam Burgess.
It seems like a pretty good list to me. Thurston was man of the match in the World Cup final, Williams was RLIF Player of the Year, Brough won Man of Steel, Cronk got the Dally M, Smith and Burgess were consistently outstanding.
I’d be interested – and maybe even swayed – by your comments over who should get it. I won’t say mine will be a “vote for the people” but I’ll listen. Personally, at this early stage, I’m leaning towards Thurston – even though he was on my bench in the Team Of The World Cup which was published in the final match programme.
Thurston was rested during the tournament while the United States Joseph Paulo played every game and played well. That is not a contention that Paulo is a better player. To me, the spirit of such teams is that you don’t take into account the quality of the opposition, you just look at performances.
In fact, that’s the spirit of the whole World Cup, why it’s not just about who won. Anyway, let me know who you think should win the Golden Boot.
AUSTRALIA were unbelievably ruthless last Saturday but anyone labelling the performance the ‘most complete in memory’ has a short memory.
In the 2004 Tri-Nations final at Elland Road, Australia led 38-0 at halftime on the way to a 44-4 win. The Great Britain side they beat had been widely tipped to give them a run – they finished top of the competition table – and there had even been injury and illness concerns for the Australians before kick-off.
But the Aussies played football as close to perfect as any this reporter has ever seen in the opening 40 minutes.
We ran into Shane Webcke – who played in the game – on the way out of Old Trafford on Saturday and checked that our memories were not deceiving us. He said that while the Aussies had been great on Saturday, the 2004 performance was something else again.
“And I am the one who came closest to making a mistake in that first half,” he said.
WIGAN coach Shaun Wane knows Super League clubs can’t compete with the NRL or rugby union financially – so he tries to reward them with life experiences.
That’s why the Super League champions are looking at playing PNG in Kopoko on February 15. The proposal to play the Warriors in Auckland is back on the table, I understand – just a couple of days before the Nines.
That would make for a fantastic week of rugby league in the City of Sails but the problem is that Matt Elliott’s side has pledged it will field its best side and the Nines and Wigan don’t want to play against second stringers.
If the game against PNG – which will be their last warm-up before joining the Queensland Cup – is played, I’ll be going to a little place called Kokopo, not Eden Park.
OK, a few comments now.