Smith scores 'best' title as Johnson tops rookies

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 21:54 17/10/2012
Shaun Johnson
Getty Images
SHOW ON THE ROAD: Shaun Johnson and the Warriors will play a regular season game in Wellington next year.

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New Zealand Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson has ended a challenging year on a high note by being named as the RLIF International Federation's rookie of the year for 2012.

Johnson's second NRL campaign was ultimately a disappointment as the beaten grand finalists in 2011 slumped to 14th while he was also omitted from the Kiwis side for last weekend's trans-Tasman test in Townsville.

The 22-year-old still had cause for satisfaction - he was impressive making his test debut in April's Anzac test when Kieran Foran was unavailable and he was also the Warriors joint top try-scorer.

The durable halfback appeared in 22 of the Warriors 24 games and led the team's statistics for most try assists (17) and line breaks (13).

He ranked second as an offloader with 20 and made the third most tackle breaks (76).

Melbourne Storm, Queensland and Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith's memorable year was capped by the international player and hooker of the year awards following the Maroons State of Origin series win, a premiership with the Storm and last weekend's test win that retained the Bill Kelly Memorial Trophy.

The award caps another memorable season for Smith, who this year was named as the Kangaroos' new captain, led Queensland to a record-breaking seventh consecutive State of Origin series triumph, was named Dally M hooker of the year, guided the Kangaroos to two tough test victories over New Zealand and led the Melbourne Storm to the NRL premiership.

Smith is one of seven Australians selected in the international team of the year - no New Zealanders made the cut while the Bulldogs English prop James Graham was named despite biting Storm fullback Billy Slater during the NRL grand final.

England wing Ryan Hall and Graham were the only non-Australians to be selected in the international line-up.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy was named international coach of the year.

The awards are voted on by an international judging panel with representatives from both the northern and southern hemispheres.

International Player of the Year: Cameron Smith (Australia), International Coach of the Year: Craig Bellamy (Australia), International Rookie of the Year: Shaun Johnson (New Zealand), International Team of the Year:

Fullback: Ben Barba (Australia)Wing: Ryan Hall (England)

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Centre: Jamie Lyon (Australia)

Five-Eighth: Johnathan Thurston (Australia)

Halfback: Cooper Cronk (Australia)

Lock: Paul Gallen (Australia)

Second Row: Nate Myles (Australia)

Prop: James Graham (England)

Hooker: Cameron Smith (Australia)

- Fairfax Media

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