Burgess sees off all challengers to land top award

Sam Burgess, left, with former RLIF International Player of the Year winner Sonny Bill Williams.
Sam Burgess, left, with former RLIF International Player of the Year winner Sonny Bill Williams.
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CLIVE CHURCHILL Medal winner Sam Burgess has become the first English winner of the RLIF International Player of the Year.

Dewsbury-born Burgess held off a group of nominees which included fellow England international James Graham, Dally M Medal winners Johnathan Thurston and Jarryd Hayne, as well as Castleford Tigers’ Man of Steel winner Daryl Clark, to win the prestigious award.

Burgess, who succeeds Sonny Bill Williams and is now set to join Aviva Premiership side Bath ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup, enjoyed a season to remember after helping South Sydney Rabbitohs to NRL Grand Final success. The former Bradford Bulls star will not be able to make his rugby union debut until December as he recovers from the injuries he sustained in the first tackle of the match against Canterbury Bulldogs earlier this month.

“Sam was wonderful for England in the World Cup last year and his performances for South Sydney through the NRL season were first-class, all the way to his Clive Churchill Medal effort in the Grand Final against Canterbury-Bankstown,” said RLIF chairman Nigel Wood.

“He is a worthy recipient and deserves to be recognised for his achievements over the past year on the international stage as well as in the NRL competition.”

A voting panel comprising 10 judges - five from the northern hemisphere and five from the southern hemisphere - was asked to assign votes to three players from a group of 10 nominees (five from Super League, five from the NRL), in 3-2-1 fashion.