- England Under 20s captain shortlisted for top junior gong
- "I'm massively fortunate to be part of a team who all work hard for each other" – Clifford
Photo: RFU Archive
England Under 20 No. 8 and captain Jack Clifford has been nominated for the IRB Junior Player of the Year 2013 Award alongside Wales fly half Sam Davies and New Zealand flanker Ardie Savea.
The winner set to be announced following the final at the Stade de la Rabine in Vannes on Sunday.
A panel comprising commentators, official TV production team and analysts selected their top three players from every match across the four rounds and a shortlist was then provided for the 12 coaches to vote on their top three players.
Bath Rugby No. 10 George Ford is the last Englishman to win the award, when he collected the trophy in 2011. The public now has the chance to vote on this shortlist on the official Facebook page www.facebook.com/irbjuniorworldrugby. The results of the public poll will be considered, along with the original votes, when finalising the winner.
Clifford said: "I'm really surprised to be nominated, but obviously delighted. I'm massively fortunate to be part of a strong team who all work hard for each other – we get on well off the pitch and I think that has reflected on our performances. I definitely wouldn't have received this nomination without the help and support of the rest of the squad. The other two guys nominated have been playing very well and it's nice to be thought of in the same bracket."
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB Junior World Championship is all about building character through a strong team ethic and achieving success through solidarity, discipline, respect, passion and integrity and the class of 2013 have once again demonstrated that the future of our sport is in very good hands."
“This event has a proven track record as a finishing school for the future stars of Rugby and more than 230 players have graduated to perform on the international stage.
“While it is difficult to predict who will follow in the footsteps of previous winners Braid, Cruden, Savea, Ford and Serfontein, and it is even more difficult to select a shortlist when there have been so many outstanding performances, the nominees thoroughly deserve their place.”
“My congratulations go to the nominees, their teams and every player who has contributed to what is once again a wonderful showcase for the future of our game.”
Sam Davies (Wales)
The Welsh fly half showed nerves of steel to slot the conversion from near the touchline to seal a 18-17 win over South Africa and secure a first JWC final for his country. Calm and composed, the 19-year-old runs the backline and is the creative influence to unleash the flyers outside him. The Ospreys’ No.10, playing in his second Junior World Championship, kicks well off both feet and also from hand, as demonstrated with his perfectly weighted kick for Ashley Evans to score the try that set up his match-winning kick in the semi-final.
Jack Clifford (England)
The No. 8 has already captained England Under 20s to the Six Nations title this year and will hope to add a first JWC title to his resume. A good leader, the Harlequins back row is a powerful runner and has made a number of breaks that have led to tries for England, including one in the semi-final against New Zealand. The 20-year-old seems destined for future honours in an England jersey.
Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
The younger brother of former winner Julian, the flanker has been the heartbeat of the New Zealand side at JWC 2013. A natural leader, he has led the Baby Blacks from the front in a team that struggled against Ireland and England in the forward exchanges. The 19-year-old Hurricanes back row also scored one of the fastest tries in JWC history after ripping the ball from a Fijian grasp on day one. He also possesses a never say die attitude and is a hot tip to follow his brother and wear the All Blacks jersey.
Previous IRB Junior Player of the Year winners
2012: Jan Serfontein (South Africa)
2011: George Ford (England)
2010: Julian Savea (New Zealand)
2009: Aaron Cruden (New Zealand)
2008: Luke Braid (New Zealand)