North Queensland halfback Johnathan Thurston has won rugby league’s Golden Boot award for a record third time.
The 32-year-old, who led the Cowboys to a first NRL grand final triumph and won the Dally M medal for a record fourth time in 2015, beat off competition from New Zealand international Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Leeds’ England fullback Zak Hardaker.
The Queensland and Australia halfback was the overwhelming choice of a 28-strong panel featuring writers and former winners for the award, which was first presented in 1984 and was also won by Thurston in 2011 and 2013.
“I’m still trying to come to terms with it,” Thurston told Rugby League World, the British magazine which presents the world.
“It’s obviously been a big year on and off the field and to finish it off with the Golden Boot is very special.
“There’s a lot of great players in both hemispheres and to be voted as the best is very humbling. I’m still a little bit lost for words.
Hardaker, Super League’s 2015 Man of Steel, lost out to Tuivasa-Sheck for the fullback spot in the prestigious World XIII, which was chosen by the same panel.
Thurston is one of seven Australian players while two Pacific Islanders, Semi Radradra of Parramatta and Brisbane’s Anthony Milford, make the line-up for the first time.
World XIII: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand); Semi Radradra (Fiji), Kallum Watkins (England), James Roberts (Australia), Jermaine McGillvary (England); Anthony Milford (Samoa), Johnathan Thurston (Australia); Jesse Bromwich (New Zealand), Cameron Smith (Australia), Matt Scott (Australia), Josh Jackson (Australia), Boyd Cordner (Australia), Corey Parker (Australia).