Greg Inglis, Sonny Bill Williams and Danny Brough have been shortlisted for rugby league’s International Player of the Year award.
Greg Inglis and Sonny Bill Williams will battle it out for the title of the world’s best rugby league player and Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens believes both have claims for the prestigious honour.
Australian star Inglis and dual New Zealand international Williams were joined by Scotland halfback Danny Brough as the three players shortlisted for rugby league’s International Player of the Year award, to be announced in the UK next week.
South Sydney star Inglis produced his best form earlier in the season before being slowed by a knee injury, while Williams was in devastating form towards the back end of the year as he helped the Sydney Roosters to the NRL premiership.
Sheens said the timing of different players’ best patches of form made it tricky to say who was the most dangerous player of 2013.
“Everyone’s been that (the world’s most dangerous player) at some stage,” Sheens said.
“Sam Burgess has been that … Sonny Bill Williams has been that, Billy (Slater) has been in that patch of form.
“They’re all very, very good quality players and it’s very subjective picking the best player in the world.”
Inglis’s progress in 2013 was hampered by a knee injury in the deciding game of Queensland’s State of Origin series win but Sheens believes the South Sydney star has returned to his best at the World Cup.
Sheens also paid tribute to Williams, who has made a spectacular return to rugby league after five years in rugby union, during which he played 19 Tests for the All Blacks.
“I think he’s surprised everyone,” Sheens said.
“Coming back playing in a premiership-standard side helps as well but he added to that, there’s no doubt about it.”
Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney said Williams’ successful return to the sport came down to more than just raw talent.
“I think we all knew the ability he had but it’s the way he’s applied himself,” Kearney said.
“It’s been wonderful to have him back in the game and it’s certainly great to have him in our squad.”
Williams and Huddersfield playmaker Brough, the Super League player of the season, are attempting to break an Australian stranglehold on the award.
Slater (2008, 2011), Jarryd Hayne (2009), Todd Carney (2010) and Cameron Smith (2012) have taken out the top individual honour since it was established six years ago.
NRL players George Burgess, Boyd Cordner and Anthony Milford have been nominated for the rookie of the year while Sydney Roosters’ Trent Robinson, South Sydney’s Michael Maguire and Wigan Warriors’ Shaun Wane are shortlisted for coach of the year.
The awards will be presented in Manchester on Wednesday.