Penrith Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris has been crowned the men’s International Rugby League (IRL) Player of the Year, winning the 2023 IRL Golden Boot award this week.
Fisher-Harris is the first prop – and first Panther – to win the prestigious award since its inception in 1984 and will add the IRL Golden Boot to the Pacific Cup medal he received after leading the Kiwis to a record 30-0 defeat of the Kangaroos and his third consecutive NRL premiership ring with the Panthers.
The New Zealand captain was presented with the 2023 IRL Golden Boot by 2000 winner and Panthers legend Brad Fittler at an event in Sydney on Wednesday.
The IRL Golden Boot is awarded each year to the best player in sanctioned rugby league international matches. Fisher-Harris was chosen by a panel comprising of Golden Cap recipients Adam Blair, James Graham, Darren Lockyer, Adrian Morley and Ruben Wiki, who are among just nine players to have played more than 50 internationals for their country.
“I can’t think of a better bloke to take out such a prestigious award. It’s thoroughly deserved,” former Kiwis coach Michael Maguire said.
“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.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.