James Fisher-Harris has become the first prop to win the men's Golden Boot award.
The IRL have announced that the Kiwis prop beat out a short list of other contenders that included Australian prop Payne Haas, Kiwi teammate Joseph Tapine and English half Harry Smith to take out the 2023 award.
The women's award has been won by New Zealander Georgia Hale, while the wheelchair award has been won by Jeremy Bourson of France.
The men's award, which was selected by a panel that was made up of former international players Adam Blair, James Graham, Darren Lockyer, Adrian Morley and Ruben Wiki, recognises the best men's international player in 2023.
It's the second time in a row a New Zealander has won the men's Golden Boot, with Joseph Manu havin taken out the 2022 version following a spectacular Rugby League World Cup. Prior to that, the award wasn't recognised in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID, with another New Zealander in Roger Tuivasa-Sheck taking out the 2019 edition.
This year, Fisher-Harris was named the best after leading the Kiwis through a demolition job of the Australian side in the Pacific Cup final, as well as featuring in a big win over Samoa.
“I can't think of a better bloke to take out such a prestigious award,” Maguire said at the event announcing the winner per NRL.com.
“It's thoroughly deserved.
“In our time together, over the years, I have watched you grow from that young player to winning grand finals and now leading the Kiwis to an emphatic win against Australia, and creating a bit of history.
“You led right from the front, right from the time you walked into the month of the campaign that we had together. You're an absolute champion with the way you go about things, and there's a lot of reasons why you're such a success in rugby league.
“What an award to have. You have now created a little piece of history for yourself in the international space, along with such a great win.”
Meanwhile, Hale, the recipient of the women's award for 2023, said it was a proud moment.
“I play rugby league to win premierships or championships or World Cups, so to receive such an accolade like this is a very proud moment and I think of how proud I am to be a Kiwi Fern and to represent the Ferns before and the Ferns to come,” Hale said.
“It's been a special year. I started my journey in 2023 here at Leeds Rhinos, which I was so fortunate to be a part of, and then was really excited to be able to return home to the Gold Coast and have such a proud season with our Titans girls.
“Then to finish off my season representing the Kiwi Ferns, breaking a seven-year drought back with the girls from back at home, just really put the icing on the cake but I don't think you can ever be satisfied with what you have done."
2024 will commence a new cycle of international rugby league, with tours and a tri-series included, as well as a new qualification pathway to a reduced World Cup that will next be played in 2026.