Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh McGahan: Feelgood shouldn't figure in awards

Danny Brough. Photo / Getty Images
Danny Brough. Photo / Getty Images

I don't know how to react to the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) and their awards. Some awards speak for themselves, but a couple have raised more than an eyebrow.

The naming of Danny Brough as five-eighth of the year, ahead of Jonathan Thurston or Kieran Foran, would raise the Titanic it's so far from the truth.

The RLIF are reluctant to name the selection criteria or who is on the selection panel. This makes me wonder if it is based on keeping everyone within the Federation happy. Unfortunately that turns it into a 'people's choice' award where the most votes from the public (family and friends) decide who is the best.

Such awards highlight who is most popular or who/what makes us feel good. I don't, and never have, the time for awards that reward the public for feeling good and which don't reward the sports person for achieving a milestone. I can recall a ceremony where a duo were awarded the highest accolade for being second in a world championship. The next year after becoming world champions; they lose this award to a team that comes fourth in a world championship, go figure.

The Kiwi team win the World Cup in 2008 but no award. In an Olympic year, the emphasis will always be on Olympic sports. To highlight the feelgood factor, another New Zealand team not that long ago won the team and ultimate award but didn't win anything in their competition; hence my apathy.

Back to the RLIF awards and if they can be taken seriously enough to acknowledge the recipients are worthy enough. The International Player of the Year award to Sonny Bill Williams can be deemed so if referring to his NRL form. But if it's for international football he hasn't played against the Australians - who are the benchmark.

Sonny Bill has had an outstanding year and deserves acknowledgement. How they can limit to one person from each country is questionable as Issac Luke has played well, along with his South Sydney team-mate in Sam Burgess for England.

I did not know about Danny Brough before this World Cup, as the English Super League is not covered extensively here. Another name for each country would have given these awards a little more credence. Cameron Smith would round out the Australian contingent as he cannot be far from any nomination for awards.

To clarify my interest, firstly I want to know the names of the selection panel to gauge the quality of their knowledge and experience. Secondly, I want to know the criteria for players to be selected and how is it assessed when there is little international rugby league played annually.

- Herald on Sunday

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Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh Joseph McGahan MBE was a renowned rugby league player and coach who represented New Zealand in no less than 53 test matches, captaining 17 of them. Beginning his career in Auckland he later moved to Sydney where he played over 100 matches for the Roosters, finishing his career in 1991 as captain-coach of the eastern Sydney outfit. Accolades were never far away from the impressive Kiwi lock and in 1987 McGahan jointly won the prestigious Golden Boot Award, the first row forward at the time to win the award. Hugh McGahan’s international career was similarly impressive coming to the fore in 1982 after scoring a remarkable six tries for the Kiwis against Papua New Guinea in Auckland. Hugh Mcgahan ended his career with distinguished honours as he was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to rugby and later inducted into the NZRL Legends of League. He continues to write sports columns for the New Zealand Herald.

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