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26th Oct 2023

Bundee Aki among four nominees for World Rugby player of the year

Niall McIntyre

Bundee Aki is among four players nominated for the prestigious World Rugby player of the year award.

The Connacht centre capped off a brilliant general season with an outstanding World Cup, where he scored five tries in five games, while playing every minute of the tournament for Ireland.

Aki, 33, made 10 clean breaks across the tournament, beating 30 defenders. He also made an incredible 447 metres in 40 carries, the most memorable of these leading to a tremendous individual try against New Zealand.

If he was to win the award, though it appears unlikely due to Ireland’s quarter final exit, Aki would make it two Irish winners in the last two years, hot on the heels of Josh van der Flier’s win in 2022.

Bundee Aki

The Wicklow born flanker is one of three Irish winners of the award in its 22 year history, with Keith Wood and Johnny Sexton having been honoured in 2001 and 2018 respectively.

Aki will compete with France’s Antoine Dupont, South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth and New Zealand’s Ardie Savea for the award, with the Kiwi the favourite to win it at this stand-point. A big final from the powerhouse South African lock may swing the tide in his favour, however.

One man who can count himself very unlucky not to make the short-list is New Zealand winger Will Jordan. The 25-year-old flyer has began his international career like a train on tracks, scoring 31 tries in 30 test matches since his debut in 2020.

A try-scoring-phenom, Jordan has already drawn level with Jonah Lomu, Bryan Habana and Julian Savea for the most tries scored at a Rugby World Cup, with eight to his name in this competition.

He scored a dazzling clincher against Ireland before following it up with a hat-trick in the semi-final against Argentina, and many have questioned the decision to omit him from the list of nominations.

In previous years, for example, there have been five and six nominations for the award, though the shortlist has been reduced to four for the last two renewals.

Meanwhile, Andy Farrell is nominated for coach of the year alongside Ian Foster, Simon Raiwalui and Jacques Nienaber, while Hugo Keenan is on the short-list for try of the year for his Six Nations wonder-score against France.

See the full list of nominations below.


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