Isabelle Kelly has been a name synonymous with the massive rise in popularity and support for women’s rugby league in past years, and in 2018 her rising star shot to new heights as she marked her name in the sport’s history.
Now the Gosford-born superstar has gone one step further in her already stellar year, claiming the women’s inaugural Golden Boot award and accepting the title of the world’s best female rugby league player for 2018.
“I’m absolutely honoured to have received the first ever Golden Boot, and I’m extremely thankful,” Kelly said after earning the honours. “This [award] just goes to show that the women’s game has become greater and greater every single year, and that it continues to grow.”
“I’d like to thank my family, and my friends to continuing to push me, and I’d also like to thank my teammates from the Jillaroos and my coaches that have taught me so much over the past few years.”
The 22-year-old was awarded the honours in Leeds, England earlier today, beating out fellow Australians Ali Brigginshaw and Brittany Breayley, as well as New Zealand winger Honey Hireme and English star Georgia Roche for the top gong.
The Golden Boot joins Kelly’s already massive trophy cabinet for the year, which also includes the women’s top award at the Brad Fittler Medal presentation for NSW’s best player, and the Nellie Doherty Medal for best on ground in State of Origin.
Kelly’s breakthrough season was littered with crowning moments, from New South Wales lifting the State of Origin trophy to the Hunter hero guiding the Sydney Roosters to a berth in the historic first Women’s NRL grand final.
Kelly scored two tries in the World Cup final against the Kiwi Ferns last year, and a further two in the Jillaroos’ 26-24 win in the Trans-Tasman last month.
The Jillaroo star was unable to attend the evening in Leeds, but delivered a recorded video message from Australia to accept the award.
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The award is chosen by a panel drawn from rugby league media in both the northern and southern hemispheres.
The panel comprised of NRL.com reporter Brad Walter, BBC commentator Dave Woods, journalist Steve Mascord, film maker and Pacific specialist Joanna Lester and League Express managing editor Martyn Sadler.