Wayne Bennett has slammed as "ignorant" and "ill-informed" criticism from Brad Fittler and Greg Alexander of his England winger Tom Makinson's selection as the Golden Boot winner.
Makinson capped a remarkable entry into the Test arena in 2018 with a hat-trick of tries in a man-of-the-match performance in England's series-clinching win over New Zealand at Anfield last Sunday.
His eye-catching displays in three games against the Kiwis were recognised by the Rugby League International Federation on Wednesday, when he was presented with the Golden Boot, awarded this year for performances only in internationals.
NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler described the choice of Makinson from a shortlist that included Australia and Blues fullback James Tedesco as ridiculous, saying: "It belittles the award. I can't believe the best player in the world is a person I've never seen play."
Alexander, a former judge of the award, echoed the sentiment, saying: "To be honest, I'd never heard of him until he scored three tries on the weekend.
"When I read up about him, his first game was in the Denver Test off the bench -- seriously?
"... People who don't know the criteria will think he's been judged the best rugby league player this year out of Super League, NRL, State of Origin, Test match footy.
"They just think the Golden Boot winner goes to the best player of the season in total so this bloke must be the best player of 2018."
Under new criteria this year, the Golden Boot, which is handed out by the Rugby League International Federation, is solely based on international performances from the 2017 World Cup final to last Sunday.
England coach Bennett fired back on Saturday, saying: "That's only from people that are ignorant and haven't watched the last three Test matches, the one in America and two here in the UK.
"If you don't know what you're talking about, you shouldn't talk about it, it's very ill informed.
"I'm not surprised, they get paid to make silly statements."
Having secured the series with a game to spare, England have a chance to emulate the 1993 Great Britain side which went unbeaten in five Tests in a calendar year by completing a clean sweep of New Zealand at Elland Road on Sunday.
Bennett wants them to finish 2018 on a high.
"It's really important," he said.
"We're trying to build something. Good teams are consistent, they turn up every week and get the job done, and that's our challenge here tomorrow, to play at the standard we've set.
"We won the first two games by two and six points so there's not much in it.
"If we get beat and we've done well tomorrow I won't be disappointed."