Australian Johnathan Thurston has joined Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer as only the third player to win Rugby League World’s coveted Golden Boot twice.
A humble Johnathan Thurston says it’ll take him a few days to accept his status among rugby league’s greats after winning the coveted Golden Boot for a second time.
The Australian, Queensland and North Queensland five-eighth is only the third player to take out the Rugby League World magazine award twice, alongside Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer.
Thurston, man of the match in the Kangaroos’ World Cup final win over New Zealand at Old Trafford in November, edged out England forward Sam Burgess to follow up his 2011 success.
Dual-code New Zealand international Sonny Bill Williams came third in the voting – which is conducted by a panel of journalists – with Australian captain Cameron Smith fourth and Huddersfield’s Scotland captain Danny Brough fifth.
“It’s obviously a huge honour to receive it; there’s a lot of great players running around in the game today,” Thurston told reporters at Cowboys HQ on Friday.
“To have my name alongside Joey and Locky to win it twice, it’s pretty special.
“It probably won’t sink in for the next few days.”
The 30-year-old enjoyed one of his best seasons of his NRL career in 2013, helping guide his club to the semi-finals after a horror start and Queensland to an eighth straight State of Origin series triumph.
“It was a great year for Australian rugby league. But the main goal was to win the World Cup that eluded us in 2008 – that one’s on the mantlepiece now, I’m very proud to win that.
“I’ve got the boys to thank for most of it; they’re the ones you play with.
“That forward pack we had throughout that competition were great and when you’ve got the best hooker to ever play the game, it makes my job very easy.”
Rugby League World editor Gareth Walker said Thurston was a deserving winner, highlighted by the “superb” way he orchestrated the Kangaroos during the Cup final.
A total of nine Australian players were named in the publication’s 2013 World XIII, joining two Englishmen and two New Zealanders.
However, no player from Super League made the team, with England’s Burgess and James Graham both plying their trade in the NRL.
World XIII (all players Australian unless denoted):
Billy Slater, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand), Greg Inglis, Jamie Lyon, Brett Morris, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Sam Burgess (England), Cameron Smith, James Graham (England), Sonny Bill Williams (NZ), Greg Bird, Paul Gallen.