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For the second year in a row, Rugby League fans on the net have voted for a New Zealander in the Internet Rugby League Fan?s choice Player of the Year award. Legendary Canberra Raiders, and New Zealand player, Ruben Wiki, only just beat Darren Lockyer (Australia) and Brian Carney (Ireland) for the award.
Wiki lead the New Zealand Kiwis in their two test matches in 2003, and in both games played out of his skin. Unfortunately for him in his first chance to lead the Kiwis, the side lost by a convincing margin at Aussie Stadium, but as an example of the true commitment and dedication Wiki can bring out of players, a second string New Zealand side defeated Australia in Albany in October to restore a lot of pride.
Rubin Wiki also gained a spot in the Fan?s choice World XIII. Other players who made it into the World XIII included Lockyer, undisputedly the World?s best fullback, Warriors pair, Francis Meli and Clinton Toopi in the backs together with British duo of Carney and Senior.
Fittler, whilst giving up on playing representative Rugby League, is still a favourite with the fans, securing the five-eighth position, and paired with Andrew Johns, who did have a good season before injury ended it.
Craig Wing secured the hooker position, whilst Jason Cayless and Webcke were picked to lead the team from the front. Adrian Morley and Joe Gulavao made up the second row, making the forwards for the side look quite daunting to any opponent.
The full list of the Fan?s Choice World XIII is as follows: 1. Fullback ? Darren Lockyer (Australia) 2. Wing ? Francis Meli (New Zealand) 3. Centre ? Clinton Toopi (New Zealand) 4. Centre ? Keith Senior (Great Britain) 5. Wing ? Brian Carney (Ireland) 6. Five-Eighth ? Brad Fittler (Australia) 7. Half Back ? Andrew Johns (Australia) 8. Prop ? Shane Webcke (Australia) 9. Hookers ? Craig Wing (Australia) 10. Prop ? Jason Cayless (Australia) 11. Second Rower ? Adrian Morley (Great Britain) 12. Second Rower ? Joe Gulavao (New Zealand) 13. Loose Forward ? Rubin Wiki (New Zealand)
In the Fan?s Choice Emerging Nations XIII, players representing seven different nations made the side, with France having the largest influence on the side with five players, including highly rated halves combination of Laurent Fraysinnous and Julian Rinaldi. Ian Watson, the hard working hooker for Wales also made the side.
The full list of the Fan?s Choice Emerging Nations XIII is as follows: 1. Fullback ? Frederic Banquet (France) 2. Wing ? Serguey Dobrynin (Russia) 3. Centre ? Wissem El Masri (Lebanon) 4. Centre ? Fabrice Estebanez (France) 5. Wing ? Will Carney (Ireland) 6. Five-Eighth ? Laurent Fraysinnous (France) 7. Half Back ? Julian Rinaldi (France) 8. Prop ? Petr Sokolov (Russia) 9. Hookers ? Ian Watson (Wales) 10. Prop ? Michael Tsougranis (Greece) 11. Second Rower ? Wayne McDonald (Scotland) 12. Second Rower ? Pascal Jampy (France) 13. Loose Forward ? Simon Knox (Scotland)
Now for the final fans choice award, the most improved nation for 2003, with the award going to Scotland. Scotland who in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup, not winning a game, went only seconds from making the Emerging Nations Cup final in 2003, losing to Ireland right at the end of their home game.
Congratulations to all the winners of the awards.