GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 21: Damien Cook of the Rabbitohs in action during the round seven NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canberra Raiders at Central Coast Stadium on April 21, 2018 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

The blow up following the recent awarding of the Golden Boot award to English winger Tommy Makinson has been well documented. It made the controversy following Billy Slater’s Origin man of the series win seem minor.

Most of the outrage comes from not understanding the nature of the award. It is awarded to the best performing player on the international stage. The 2018 award took in games after the World Cup final.

Truthfully the award hardly covers ‘the best player in the world’ as it use to do. Considering the Kangaroos only played two Tests all year compared to England and New Zealand who played more in one series. It’s a ridiculous concept.

Under the criteria, Tommy Makinson was a deserved winner. He has been magnificent for the English national side.

That said, I don’t believe the award covers the best player in the world.

For that reason Zero Tackle is going to award a yearly Green Boot award for the true best player in the world. Below are the nominees and first ever winner.

The criteria doesn’t come down to 3-2-1’s or averages, or stats, but a simple question of who was the best player in 2018, across all levels of the game.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck: The current Dally M Medallist, RTS has a brilliant case for being the best player in the world. He won the highest individual award in the toughest competition in the world. He has a magnificent season and no one could argue his earning of the award under the system. Would be the Kiwis’ captain if not for injury. He beat out an elite field to win his first Dally M medal.

Ben Barba: The St Helens fullback added the English Super League’s Man of Steel award to his Dally M medal and premiership ring in a wow of a season. There will be some who will question the strength of the ESL against the NRL, and rightfully so, but Barba was so far above the rest of the pack that he had the Man of Steel award wrapped up literally months ago. Will be a genuine star on his return for the Cowboys in 2019.

Tommy Makinson: The current Golden Boot winner had a magical season for both St Helens and the English national side. You may not know much about the 27 year-old winger but he is a try-scoring freak and had a brilliant season, especially in the white of England. Scored a hat-trick against the Kiwis last weekend. Again, would he have had such a dominant season in the NRL? He has plenty of talent and I hope to see him in the competition some day soon.

Damien Cook: Damien Cook was the form player of the competition in the pre-Origin part of the season. He earned his Origin jersey and was, for mine, the second best player in the series. Yes, I had Cook’s efforts above the eventual winner Billy Slater. Cook is arguably the game’s top number nine right now. He’s second best at worst, as of course Cameron Smith is still around. Had a magical season.

Kalyn Ponga: With all due respect to RTS if Ponga had played another game or two, he would be the current Dally M medallist. In terms of points per game, he was streaks ahead of the competition. Ponga was incredible for Newcastle and earned his Origin jersey. If not for a last ditch Tedesco tackle, he would have scored the winner and Queensland would have reclaimed the famous shield. Injury robbed him of a Kangaroos jersey. Arguably the game’s best young player.

Valentine Holmes: If the award was based purely on Origin and post-Origin form, the Cronulla number one would be miles ahead of the competition. Unfortunately his early season form was a little under what was expected which ultimately cost him a shot at the Dally M. He was again one of Queensland’s best and a constant threat for both club, state and country. Whether he moves to the Cowboys or re-signs with the Sharks, the contract will be massive, and rightfully so.

James Tedesco: Teddy was the most influential player in the Origin series. He was man of the match in game one and should have been man of the match in game two. Had a wonderful season in the tri-colours before his Origin heroics. Teddy beat out Holmes and Turbo for the number one jersey, and would have even topped Ponga. Teddy did it all across all three levels of the game in 2018.

Latrell Mitchell: The biggest Dally M farce was the over looking of Latrell Mitchell as the game’s best centre. Forget the 3-2-1 system, Mitchell was the best centre across the competition by an absolute mile. Made his Origin debut and bossed the man previously thought of as the best centre in the game Will Chambers. Made his Kangaroos debut and played very well. The game’s elite centre.

WINNER: Damien Cook

This came down to a simple question: which player, based purely on 2018 alone, would I most want to sign to my club next year? There’s only one answer, Damien Cook!

Cook’s early season form was absolutely blistering. He was the first player picked for New South Wales and had a magnificent series. For mine he was, at worst, the second best player across the three games, behind Tedesco.

Due to his amazing end to the season, people forget Teddy’s slow start to the season. Cook had no such troubles. His form also never really dipped. Sure he stopped ripping sides apart each and every time he ran, but I can’t remember a bad game all season.

Cook was my pick for the Dally M and only didn’t feature due to the likes of Cody Walker, Sam Burgess and Angus Crichton taking so many points off him. He was, by far, the best number nine in the competition, something I didn’t see myself saying while Cam Smith was still active.

There are arguments for Tedesco and Barba, but for mine, Damien Cook’s form was incredible. He was the best player in the world in 2018 over the longest period of time. He was dominant in Origin and had a brilliant game for the Roos against Tonga.

Damien Cook, congratulations on winning the very first Zero Tackle Green Boot.

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