The nominees for the World Rugby Player of the Year are in and, unsurprisingly, the six-man list is dominated by New Zealand and England.
Here, we take a look at each of the six nominees before asking you to cast your vote as to who should take out rugby’s top individual honour.
Beauden Barrett [New Zealand]
The Hurricanes fly-half started the season as New Zealand’s second-string option at No.10, but quickly rose to be the standout playmaker in the game. Barrett led the Hurricanes to their maiden Super Rugby title, before piloting the All Blacks for victories 10-18 on their record-breaking winning run.
Ireland conquered 111 years of history. South Africa avoided an embarrassing defeat, while Australia and Argentina dominated. It’s the big story of week one of the autumn internationals.
Dane Coles [New Zealand]
The game’s premier hooker, Coles has redefined the role of the modern-day rake. Blessed with a turn of pace that would make a back proud, Coles overcame a painful rib injury during the Super Rugby playoffs to lift the trophy before settling into his usual free-running role at the All Blacks.
Owen Farrell [England]
The midfield rock of England’s stellar year, Farrell has been a defensive force and goal-kicking machine for Eddie Jones’ side in 2016. The England No.12 finished with a tournament-high 69 points from England’s Six Nations Grand Slam and then amassed 66 from just three Tests against Australia.
Maro Itoje [England]
Already a nominee for the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year, Itoje was a huge presence in both the Six Nations and England’s sweep of Australia in June. The lock enjoyed the fierce breakdown battle with the Wallabies in particular, giving England a virtual fourth back-rower with his ability to get over the ball.
Jamie Heaslip [Ireland}
A veteran of 94 Tests, Heaslip’s proudest moment must surely have come last weekend when Ireland created history with an upset with over New Zealand in Chicago. Heaslip set up the match-winning try with a superb inside ball to Robbie Henshaw and featured in all five Tests of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign, scoring two tries.
Billy Vunipola [England]
England’s back-row powerhouse, Vunipola was a ball-running force in both the Six Nations and tour of Australia. Vunipola picked up three Man of the Match Awards during the Grand Slam, and then gave the Wallabies all kinds of issues with his brutal physicality.
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