Rhinos duo nominated for historic International Wheelchair Golden Boot award

Two members of Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair Rugby League’s double-winning side have received nominations for the first International Rugby League Wheelchair Golden Boot award.

Rhinos captain James Simpson and Nathan Collins will be in the running to win the prize when Emerald Headingley stages a new awards dinner for Wheelchair Rugby League on Friday January 31st.

The International Rugby League and the Rugby Football League will combine to recognise a year of outstanding progress and achievement for the International Wheelchair game in 2019 at a dedicated awards evening.

The introduction of the International Rugby League Wheelchair Golden Boot will provide the game with a trio of global award winners.

The Golden Boot was founded in 1984 by Open Rugby magazine, with Wally Lewis winning the inaugural award. New Zealand’s Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was crowned the latest winner in November, when Australia’s Jessica Sergis became the second winner of a Women’s award which was introduced in 2018.

Eight contenders for the inaugural Wheelchair award have been nominated by the newly-formed International Rugby League Wheelchair Steering Group after a busy international season, in which England toured France and Australia as well as playing in a Tri Nations tournament in Wales.

The eight nominees are as follows: Jack Brown, Nathan Collins and James Simpson (England); Gilles Clausells and Kevin Pastor (France); Cory Cannane (Australia); Jay Anderson (Scotland); Stuart Williams (Wales).

Seven domestic awards will also be presented, based on performances in the Wheelchair Super League and Wheelchair Challenge Cup in 2019 – Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Team of the Year, Club of the Year, Match Official of the Year, and the Chair’s Award, a special award from Martin Coyd OBE, Chair of Wheelchair Rugby League.

Having won both the League Leaders’ trophy and Challenge Cup last season, the Rhinos are strongly represented in the nominees, with James Simpson also in the running for Player of the Year; team-mates Nathan Collins and Josh Butler are nominated for Young Player of the Year; and the side are also nominated in the Team of the Year category.

Martin Coyd OBE, the Chair of England Wheelchair Rugby League, said: “2019 was a year of improvement, progress and achievement for Wheelchair Rugby League, both domestically and internationally – ending with our England team excelling in Australia on their ground-breaking Ashes tour.

“The introduction of this awards night provides us with the opportunity to recognise and celebrate those achievements – and also to look forward to an exciting year of growth domestically in 2020, with an incoming Wheelaroo Tour to crown the season in October and with Rugby League World Cup 2021 coming fast over the horizon.”

Nigel Wood, the IRL’s Chief Executive Officer said: “We are delighted to announce the addition of a third Golden Boot award for Rugby League.

“We are keen to recognise the rapid progress of Wheelchair Rugby League over recent times, and the outstanding skill, athleticism and courage of those involved. It is without doubt, one of the greatest undiscovered aspects of Rugby League but that will all change as Wheelchair Rugby League continues to excite, thrill and enthral up to, and beyond the World Cup. The award of the Golden Boot will attract more eyeballs to this magnificent version of Rugby League and that can only be welcomed.”

Domestic Award Nominees

Player of the Year

Jack Brown- Halifax
Lewis King- Argonauts
James Simpson- Leeds Rhinos

Young Player of the Year

Josh Butler- Leeds Rhinos
Nathan Collins- Leeds Rhinos
Robert Hawkins- Halifax

Club of the Year

Leeds Rhinos
North Wales Crusaders

Team of the Year

Leeds Rhinos