A panel comprising some of the most accomplished players in international rugby league will select the men’s and women’s 2023 IRL Golden Boot winners after nominations were finalised following the recent Pacific Championships and historic England-Tonga series.

Golden Cap recipients Darren Lockyer (Australia), Adrian Morley (England), Ruben Wiki (New Zealand), James Graham (England) and Adam Blair (New Zealand), who are among just nine players to have played 50 internationals for their country, will choose the men’s IRL Golden Boot winner.

The women’s IRL Golden Boot 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.

The judges of the 2023 Wheelchair IRL Golden Boot include Malcolm Kielty (England) and Robert Fassolette (France), the two key figures in establishing the sport, along with another driving force in the game’s development in Martin Coyd, and long serving administrator Niel Wood, who has been a member of the IRL’s Wheelchair Rugby League advisory committee.

IRL Chair Troy Grant said: “The IRL Golden Boot is one of the oldest and most highly regarded awards in rugby league, so it is fitting that some of the giants of the international game decide the winners.

“Having former players of such standing choose the men’s and women’s international player of the year adds to the prestige of the IRL Golden Boot and we thank them for their support of the award.

“There could also be no-one better qualified to determine the winner of the Wheelchair Golden Boot than those who pioneered the sport and the IRL is grateful for their involvement.”

New Zealand players dominate the long lists of men’s and women’s candidates, chosen by members of the media in Australia, England, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, after the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns triumphed against Australia in the Pacific Championships.

Kiwis stars Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Jahrome Hughes, James Fisher-Harris, Joey Tapine and Ronaldo Mulitalo headline the contenders for the men’s Golden Boot, while 2022 winner Raecene McGregor and Kiwis Ferns team-mates Apii Nicholls, Mele Hufanga and Georgia Hale are candidates for the women’s award.

England’s Harry Smith, Mikey Lewis, John Bateman and Matty Ashton have also been nominated after the recent 3-0 series defeat of Tonga, alongside the Kangaroos quartet of Cameron Murray, Harry Grant, Payne Haas and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

Other players on the long list include Papua New Guinea pair Lachlan Lam and Edwin Ipape, Fiji prop Tui Kamikamica and fullback Jahream Bula, Samoa fullback Su’a Faalogo, Cook Islands playmaker Esan Marsters and Tonga prop Addin Fonua-Blake.

The women’s Golden Boot is just as keenly contested, with Jillaroos stars Tamika Upton and Jess Sergis also vying with England prop Amy Hardcastle and five-eighth Georgia Roche.

Others in contention include France’s Elisa Akpa and Lauréane Biville, Samoa prop Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala, Tonga centre Tiana Penitani, Papua New Guinea centre Belinda Gwasamun and Cook Islands front-rower Toru Arakua.

The IRL Golden Boot is awarded to the best player in sanctioned rugby league international matches each year.

The 2022 IRL Golden Boot winners were New Zealand’s Joey Manu and Raecene McGregor, and England Wheelchair star Sebastien Bechara.

Short lists for the men’s, women’s and wheelchair 2023 IRL Golden Boot awards will be announced after the second wheelchair international between last year’s World Cup winners England and runners-up France in Carcassonne on November 25.

France triumphed 43-34 in Leeds on November 5 in the first encounter between the two nations since the epic World Cup final.

The winners of the 2023 IRL Golden Boot awards will be announced in early December.

IRL Chair Troy Grant said: “There has been more international rugby league played in recent months than any other period in recent memory outside of a World Cup year and players have again demonstrated their passion for representing their countries of birth or heritage.

“It is a sign of how competitive the game is at international level that the three World Cup champions – the Kangaroos, Jillaroos and England Wheelchair – were all recently beaten in gripping contests that showcased rugby league at its best.”

Nominated Kiwis

James Fisher-Harris

Jahrome Hughes

Ronaldo Mulitalo

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad

Joseph Tapine

Nominated Kiwi Ferns

Georgia Hale

Mele Hufanga

Raecene McGregor

Apii Nicholls