Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston has missed out on winning a third Rugby League World Golden Boot, but he has been named in the team of the year for 2014.
New Zealand halfback Shaun Johnson won the top honour for the first time, capping a year that included being man of the the match as his side defeated Australia to lift the Four Nations title – a performance that impressed the 13-man Golden Boot voting panel.
For the second successive year, South Sydney’s English forward Sam Burgess came second in the voting.
While Burgess was within seven points of Johnathan Thurston last year, this time Johnson was a decisive winner, collecting almost twice as many points as his nearest rival.
JT was among the six finalists and was named as five-eighth in the 2014 World XIII.
Johnson becomes only the fourth New Zealander to win the prestigious award, following fellow countrymen Hugh McGahan, Stacey Jones and Benji Marshall.
The panel of 13 judges put together by Rugby League World magazine included representatives from Australia, England, France and New Zealand.
Among them were former Golden Boot winner Garry Schofield, ex-Great Britain coach Brian Noble and past Kiwi internationals Robbie Hunter-Paul and Daryl Halligan.
Each judge was asked to hand their leading contender five points, their second three and their third one, from a six-man shortlist.
Johnson finished with 44 points, Burgess 23, with James Graham third on 18 and Greg Inglis fourth with 17.
Double winner Thurston – who missed the Four Nations through injury – polled 13 points and Kiwi prop Jesse Bromwich two.
“As is always the case with the Rugby League World Golden Boot, we asked the judges to consider the performances on the international stage first and foremost, and it’s undeniable that Shaun Johnson had the biggest impact at that level in 2014,” RLW editor Gareth Walker said.
“Throughout the entire tournament he provided a devastating mix of organising the New Zealand side and producing moments of individual brilliance himself.”
The Kiwis’ success is further illustrated by the fact that Johnson is one of six New Zealanders in the World XIII – the first time in its history they have had that many – having had five in 1983, 1984 and 2010.
WORLD XIII 2014: 1 Greg Inglis, 2 Ryan Hall, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Dean Whare, 5 Manu Vatuvei, 6 Johnathan Thurston, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 James Graham, 9 Cameron Smith, 10 Jesse Bromwich, 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Simon Mannering, 13 Sam Burgess.
PAST GOLDEN BOOT WINNERS
1984: Wally Lewis
1985: Brett Kenny
1986: Garry Jack
1987: Hugh McGahan & Peter Sterling
1988: Ellery Hanley
1989: Mal Meninga
1990: Garry Schofield
1999: Andrew Johns
2000: Brad Fittler
2001: Andrew Johns
2002: Stacey Jones
2003: Darren Lockyer
2004: Andrew Farrell
2005: Anthony Minichiello
2006: Darren Lockyer
2007: Cameron Smith
2008: Billy Slater
2009: Greg Inglis
2010: Benji Marshal
2011: Johnathan Thurston
2012: Kevin Sinfield
2013: Johnathan Thurston