- Luke Cowan-Dickie and Zach Kilbrige up for the LV= Breakthrough Player Award
- Voting open at www.lv.com/rugby
Photo: Getty Images
Jack Nowell’s rise from LV= Breakthrough player of the year to fully-fledged England international has been a rapid one – and lightning could be striking twice on the south coast 12 months on.
Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie has been turning heads for a while for his sterling performances through the England age-groups, including the Under-20s’ Junior World Championship success last summer.
The 20-year-old converted from a loosehead prop last season and this campaign has started to make a real impact in the Chiefs first XV.
Injury blighted his start to the season but he has made two Premiership and two Heineken Cup appearances in recent weeks.
Add that to his barnstorming LV= Cup displays that included a two-try outing in a win over the Ospreys and it is easy to see why Cowan-Dickie has been nominated.
And after his good friend Nowell waltzed off with the award last year and is now starting for England, Rugby World Cup-winner Lewis Moody is confident the best is yet to come from Cowan-Dickie.
“The one thing I like about him is he is a tenacious little character,” said Moody. “When you’re a forward, your energy is being sapped from you in every involvement you have in the game – the scrum, the line out, the maul – so it’s even harder to impress so for me to have guys like this in this group of nominees is very important.”
And Moody is confident that the front-rower is at just the right place under Rob Baxter’s tutelage to continue his rapid development.
“He goes out there and plays hard,” he added. “He’s in the mould of those Exeter Chiefs, those guys maintain their position in the Premiership over the last few years by determination, their character, the way that they train and the culture and environment they’ve created through sheer hard work.
“That’s how I like it – the attitude in his performances, the tenacity he brings to the game, that ‘never say die’ attitude. He still a young man at 20 but he plays well beyond his years.”
Joining Cowan-Dickie is Newcastle runaway train winger Zach Kibirige. Kibirige was nominated for the LV= Breakthrough Player Award for his sterling performances in the competition this season.
The 19-year-old is currently on international duty with England Under 20 during the Six Nations and ran in two tries against Scotland a fortnight ago.
But it was his strong showing in the LV= Cup round 3 when the flyer carried for more than 100 metres that has really caught the Falcons faithful’s attention.
And Moody admits that to be standing out in a Falcons side that have not won in the league since October is all the more impressive.
“Zach has had a ridiculous run of form recently,” said Moody. “I think he’s in a good place if he’s going to get recognition but it’s amazing how many of these guys came through the England youth set-up.
“Zach is one of them as well and he showed great form when he played for England and he’s continuing now. That’s important when you get the opportunities at Premiership level.”
Cowan-Dickie and Kirbirige are nominated along with eight others for 2014 LV= Breakthrough Player Award, with the winner to be announced prior to the LV= Cup Final at Sandy Park on March 16 and LV= will donate £1,000 to a grassroots rugby initiative of the winner's choice.
The LV=Cup, watch the next generation break through. For more information on the LV= Breakthrough Player Award and voting, visit www.LV.com/rugby