- One week left to vote in LV= Breakthrough Player Award
- Winner announced following this weekend's semi-finals
Photo: RFU Archive
Only one week remains for supporters to vote for the inaugural LV=Breakthrough Player Award winner, with the voting coming to a close at midnight on Sunday March 11.
The LV= Cup is credited for playing a crucial role in the development of elite players and the introduction of the LV= Breakthrough Player Award aims to recognise and celebrate this talent.
The six finalists were announced on February 6th after being chosen from a shortlist of 20 by a panel of rugby experts: Martin Bayfield (ITV), Gwyn Jones (S4C), Ieuan Evans (Sky) and Gavin Mairs (Telegraph).
The winner of the award will receive a Tag-Heuer watch plus £1000 donated to the local grassroots club of their choice, and of course, the LV= Breakthrough Player trophy.
Voting numbers for the LV= Breakthrough Player Award have exceeded 2,500, but it remains a close fought battle between the six finalists.
Representatives from the Aviva Premiership include the 2011 IRB Junior Player of the Year George Ford, who plies his trade at fly-half for Leicester Tigers and England U20’s teammate Matt Kvesic, flanker for Worcester Warriors.
U20’s captain Ford has just been handed a new contract by Leicester after becoming a Tigers first team regular, scoring his first try in the Heineken Cup victory against Aironi in January.
Commenting on his inclusion amongst the finalists, Ford said: “It’s really nice to be recognised, especially amongst the other players.
“I’ve played with Matt and JJ for England U20s and can say that they thoroughly deserve to be recognised as breakthrough talent.
“It’s really important for me to keep developing my game for Leicester and England U20s and the LV= Cup is a great opportunity for young players to get crucial playing time.
“I'm not thinking about winning it and with guys like Jonny May, Liam Williams and Matthew Morgan as well as Kvesic and JJ it would be a big ask, but as I say, I appreciate the nomination."
The competition really is a great opportunity for us younger players - May
Gloucester’s Johnny May, who stood out in his side's victory against Harlequins in February, and London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph are included amongst the finalists.
Despite Gloucester going out of the competition in the pool stages, May paid tribute to the platform the LV= Cup has given him.
He said: “The competition really is a great opportunity for us younger players to make our mark. The club was thrilled to have won it last year and although it’s a shame we won’t be defending the title this season, I have personally benefited from that extra game time during the pool stages.”
London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph, who has scored six tries in 12 appearances for the Exiles this season, has recently returned from the side lines following a string of injuries late last year. He has since gone on to appear five times for the club in 2012, scoring two tries in the process.
The Welsh representatives in the final six are 19-year-old Ospreys fly-half Matthew Morgan and 20-year-old Llanelli Scarlets full-back Liam Williams.
Williams, who can also play on the wing, is the only player in the final six to have been selected in their country’s provisional Six Nations Squad, but was called-up to start for Llanelli Scarlets against Connaght last month.
To vote for your LV= Breakthrough Player Award, head to www.lv.co.uk/rugby.
The winner of the award, which is designed to recognise a young player who has stood out in the 2011-12 competition, will be announced on Tuesday March 13.
The LV= Cup Final is coming to Sixways, Worcester on Sunday, 18 March. Secure two tickets for just £20 with a 2-for-1 offer on the first 1,000 tickets sold for the battle for this season’s first piece of silverware. These tickets will sell fast so book now at 01905 454183 or www.warriors.co.uk
LV= Breakthrough Player shortlist
George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Liam Williams (Scarlets)
Matthew Morgan (Ospreys)
Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors)