Despite an inauspicious World Cup run from the Kiwis, New Zealand star Joey Manu has taken home the men's Golden Boot award as the year's best international player.
He was joined by fellow Kiwi and women's award winner Raecene McGregor and wheelchair rugby league winner Sebastien Bechara as the big winners on the night.
Manu claimed the men's honour as one of a shortlist of players including Josh Addo-Carr, Jarome Luai, George Williams and Victor Radley.
The 26-year-old has barely missed a beat during the tournament, despite playing the fullback role which is usually occupied by James Tedesco at club level. He becomes the sixth New Zealand player to win the award, joining an illustrious club that includes Benji Marshall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Johnson.
Manu has been dominant on the field, averaging over 300 metres throughout the World Cup and also put in a dominant performance during the mid-year Test between New Zealand and Tonga.
Though his versatility makes him a valuable member of any squad, it's also left Manu uncertain about what role he'll be playing in the future – but he's happy to leave the fullback role to his captain at the Roosters.
“I've definitely enjoyed playing fullback, it was nice to play back-to-back weeks. At club land I've been in and out,” Manu said, per Fox Sports.
“I'm not sure about what position I'll play (in the NRL) in the future. Wherever I am on the field I'm happy, I just love playing anywhere.
“Pretty sure I'll be back in the centres next year and that'll be good too. (Roosters captain) Teddy has nothing to worry about, he's the man.”
Manu also offered his tip for the World Cup final – and he's predicting an upset, getting behind Samoa's history-making run to the final game of the competition.
“If (Samoa) do win it'll be crazy because of what we've already seen from them making the final. I'll be wishing them all the best.
“I wish it was us there… it would be pretty cool to see Samoa win.”
🙌 Introducing your RLWC2021 Teams of the Tournament.
Following a month of scintillating Rugby League action across the men's, women's and wheelchair tournaments it's time to unveil which players have been included.
Who would you add? https://t.co/qxTD9l0QiO #RLWC2021 pic.twitter.com/CuNiusRPBQ
— Rugby League World Cup 2021 (@RLWC2021) November 15, 2022