TWO former St Helens players have been named in the 2012 international rugby league team of the year.
James Graham was hailed as the season’s best prop forward, while Jamie Lyon took the prize for the most outstanding centre.
Graham, who now plays for Canterbury Bulldogs, and Leeds Rhinos’ Ryan Hall were the only Englishmen named on the list.
Australia captain Cameron Smith was named the 2012 Rugby League International Federation player of the year.
The Melbourne Storm player was also named hooker of the year in a team dominated by Australians.
The award caps another amazing season for Smith, who led the Kangaroos to two Test victories over New Zealand after succeeding Darren Lockyer as captain, skippered Queensland to a record-breaking seventh consecutive State of Origin Series triumph and led the Storm to the NRL Premiership.
It is the first time Smith has won the award, which was first presented in 2008 to his Melbourne team-mate Billy Slater. Other previous winners are Jarryd Hayne (2009), Todd Carney (2010) and Slater again (2011).
Melbourne’s Grand Final-winning boss Craig Bellamy is coach of the year and New Zealand half-back Shaun Johnson has been named international rookie.
“As we look forward to the Rugby League World Cup in the northern hemisphere in 2013, you can’t help but be excited at the talent that will be on display,” said RLIF chairman Scott Carter.
“The strength of the Australian side at the moment has certainly been reflected in the international team of the year and, while the Kangaroos will start the World Cup as warm favourites, the competition that exists in international rugby league will ensure the tournament will be as fascinating as it was in 2008 when New Zealand were crowned the world champions.”
RLIF player of the year award winners are:
Player of the year - Cameron Smith (Aus).
Coach of the year - Craig Bellamy (Aus).
Rookie of the year - Shaun Johnson (NZ).
Team of the year:
Full-back: Ben Barba (Aus).
Winger: Ryan Hall (Eng).
Centre: Jamie Lyon (Aus).
Stand-off: Johnathan Thurston (Aus).
Scrum-half: Cooper Cronk (Aus).
Loose forward: Paul Gallen (Aus).
Second row: Nate Myles (Aus).
Prop: James Graham (Eng).
Hooker: Cameron Smith (Aus).