Lockyer claims the prize Golden
Boot award

Australian captain Darren Lockyer has been named as the winner of the Rugby League World Golden Boot for 2003. The 26-year-old Brisbane Broncos full back has been nominated by a panel of journalists as the leading player in Rugby League, by a landslide vote.

Lockyer has had a fine year at all levels, although his form for Brisbane and Queensland could not help them to glory at NRL or State of Origin level.

He was named as the Broncos' Player of the Year after they were knocked out of the NRL Play-Off's at the first attempt, the Origin Series seeming to affect many of their players as their form dipped late in the season.

But he was revitalised by the time Australia took on the Lions in the Think! Road Safety Test Series, having played in all of their games leading up to the Ashes.

He scored the winning try in the First Test during a near-faultless Test Series, and his display in Saturday's 18-12 win at Huddersfield - when he created the two tries which saw them snatch an 18-12 win - ensured the honour went his way.

Lockyer succeeds New Zealand's Stacey Jones as the winner of the award, which was presented to him at their team hotel on Sunday ahead of the squad's return to Australia.

"I'm really pleased to win such a prestigious award," he said. "To be up there as a winner alongside so many illustrious names is a real honour."

The World XIII, also voted for by a global panel of over 100 journalists and broadcasters, will be unveiled in the next issue of Rugby League World on Friday.