Golden boy puts boot into his Aussie critics
Even Kevin Sinfield was surprised to win the unofficial prize for the world's best player - the Golden Boot.
However, the Leeds Rhinos champion dismissed his Australian critics who believe NRL stars such as Melbourne's Cameron Smith and Canterbury's Dally M medallist Ben Barba were better placed to win the award, with Sinfield claiming Aussies ''rate themselves very highly''.
Sinfield, 32, will be hoping to silence the cynics when he leads English Super League champions Leeds against a star-studded Melbourne Storm in next month's World Club Challenge.
But the backlash over the England captain beating the stars of the NRL to the Golden Boot does not look like going away after Sinfield's response. ''The Australians probably think the NRL competition is far superior to Super League,'' he told BBC Sport. ''Whether they rate me or not, I am not sure, but with a lot of the Australians they rate themselves very highly.
''I am not bothered or interested in what they say. If they want to have a crack then they can fire away.''
Sinfield became the fourth Englishman to claim the Golden Boot, and the first since Andy Farrell in 2004.
''I am surprised to win it, and I feel very fortunate,'' Sinfield told the Yorkshire Evening Post. ''I don't pick the award. Like everything, people have an opinion. When do you ever have a 100 per cent winner?''
Back in pre-season training with Leeds, Sinfield will be looking to get the last laugh in the World Club Challenge at home ground, Headingley, on February 22.
Sinfield led Leeds to a 26-12 triumph over Manly in last year's contest, sparking a big year for the 10-year Rhinos skipper.
He overcame a head knock to lead the Rhinos to their sixth Super League title in nine years and was named man of the match.
He also took Leeds to the Challenge Cup final at Wembley which they lost to Warrington.