England coach Wayne Bennett has fired back at critics who have slammed Tommy Makinson's Golden Boot victory as "ignorant" and "ill-informed" ahead of the third Test on Sunday.
Makinson became the first winger in the history of the award to be judged as the best international player in 2018, joining the likes of Australian names Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston as the most recent winners.
Under the new voting criteria nominees were announced on international fixtures only, but that did not sit well with NSW coach Brad Fittler, who voiced his thoughts via the NSWRL website immediately after the decision.
Fittler said he thought the choice of Makinson was "ridiculous" and the decision belittled the award, sparking Bennett to hit back at the overall criticism at England's final training run at Elland Road.
Other former internationals vented their disapproval this week, including Greg Alexander and Willie Mason.
"The backlash? That's only from people that are ignorant and haven't bothered to watch the last three Test matches in America and the two here in the UK," Bennett said on Saturday.
"I'm not surprised, people get paid to make silly statements and they do it. If you'd watched his games, I've watched them all obviously.
"If that's the protocol for the Golden Boot, which I understand it is, then Elliott Whitehead was the other guy in line for it as well, he's been outstanding.
"If you don't know what you're talking about I just wish you wouldn't talk about it ... very ill-informed."
Bennett said Makinson did not warrant being criticised for a decision out of his control.
"Tommy's not that type of guy, he likes to play well and not let anybody down," he said.
"I think that's his motivation more than anything else. He wasn't expecting it or playing for the Golden Boot I can tell you. He didn't select himself.
"That's the opportunity that comes along sometimes and you've got to grab it, other times you think you deserve something and don't get it so take it when it comes."
England are on track for their biggest crowd against New Zealand in a home Test outside of London since 1951.
Limited tickets remain in the 33,000 venue despite England already wrapping up the series 2-0.
"We went to Hull and we weren't sure if the crowd were going to cheer us or not," Bennett said.
"But they've seen these guys put in, they were outstanding in Australia in the World Cup and I think they're getting some belief in their fans, that they're a good side."