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The nominees for the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year have been announced with England, South Africa and France all represented.

Joe Cokanasiga (England), Herschel Jantjies (South Africa) and Romain Ntamack (France) are all nominated following their eye-catching performances throughout the year.

To be eligible for this award, players must have played less than one year of senior international rugby, with former internationals Jamie Heaslip, Felipe Contepomi and Rugby World Cup winners Fiao’o Faamausili and Bryan Habana on the panel that selects the shortlist.

Previous winners include New Zealand’s RWC 2015 winner Nehe Milner-Skudder, England forward Maro Itoje, All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane and South Africa winger Aphiwe Dyantyi.

Cokanasiga winger announced himself on the international stage with a try on debut against Japan at Twickenham last November and has since recorded seven tries in his nine tests.

Meanwhile, South African scrum-half Jantjies scored twice on his test debut against Australia in the Rugby Championship in July and touched down again in the 16-16 draw with New Zealand.

The 23-year-old has featured in all but one of South Africa’s tests since, more often than not providing an impact off the bench.

At 20, Ntamack is the youngest member of France’s Rugby World Cup squad. He made his international debut at centre in the Six Nations opener against Wales in February but is more prominently featured at fly-half.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award recognises the most exciting talent to burst onto the international 15s or sevens stage during the year and highlights the ‘ones to watch’.

“There were several outstanding candidates and the process of selecting the shortlist was tough for the panel. We have three outstanding candidates, who would be worthy recipients of this prestigious award.”

The winner will be revealed at the World Rugby Awards, which take place at The Prince Park Tower in Tokyo, Japan, on 3 November.


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