A forward could take out the Golden Boot for the first time in almost two decades after the International Rugby League cut their long list of nominees to four.

Englishman Andrew Farrell was the last non spine forward to take out the award in 2004, while Australian hooker Cameron Smith took out the award in 2007 and 2017.

All other Golden Boot winners in the last 20 years have been spine players with the exception of Greg Inglis (2009) and Tommy Makinson (2018).

Defending champion Joseph Manu didn't make the long list of nominees, which was cut to a list of four players yesterday, including New Zealand forward duo James Fisher-Harris and Joseph Tapine, and Australian star prop Payne Haas. They are joined on the short list by English halfback Harry Smith.

The women's list has also been cut to four, featuring three New Zealanders - Georgia Hale, Mele Hufanga and Apii Nicholls, as well as Australian Tamika Upton.

The awards, which are being chosen by a panel of former international stars, will judge the Golden Boot winners for 2023 on performances in sanctioned international matches during the calendar year.

IRL chairman Troy Grant said the international game across men's, women's and wheelchair action is tighether than it ever has been.

“The IRL Golden Boot is one of the game's most prestigious awards and any of the nominated players would be a worthy winner,” Mr Grant said.

“In recent weeks we have seen all three of last year's World Cup winners – the Kangaroos, Jillaroos and England Wheelchair team – beaten, and this shows how closely contested the international game is.

“That is reflected in the nominations for the 2023 Golden Boot and there is no clear-cut candidate for any of the awards.

“On behalf of the IRL, I would like to thank the panels of former greats of our game, and those who have made a significant contribution to the development of Wheelchair Rugby League, for their involvement in helping to choose the 2023 international player of the year.”

The awards will be announced in December.

2023 IRL Golden Boot short lists

James Fisher-Harris (New Zealand)
Payne Haas (Australia)
Harry Smith (England)
Joseph Tapine (New Zealand)

Georgia Hale (New Zealand)
Mele Hufanga (New Zealand)
Apii Nicholls (New Zealand)
Tamika Upton (Australia)

Jeremy Bourson (France)
Lewis King (England)