World Rugby have today announced a three-man shortlist for the Breakthrough Player Of The Year award.
Previous winners include Maro Itoje in 2016 and Nehe Milner-Skudder in 2015 so it’s safe to say that this year’s winner will be joining some prestigious company.
The three players in contention for 2017 are New Zealand’s Rieko Ioane, Argentina’s Emiliano Boffelli and France’s Damian Penaud.
In order to be eligible for the award, players must have played less than one year of senior international rugby.
Those on the panel who selected the shortlist include former Puma Felipe Contepomi and former Black Fern Melodie Robinson .
Ioane made his debut for the All Blacks at the end of 2016 but it’s been his incredible performances for Steve Hansen’s side in 2017 which has seen him flourish on the international stage. The 20-year-old finished the Rugby Championship as joint-top try-scorer with five after beating the most defenders, making the most clean breaks and metres in the competition. Also, let’s not forget the two tries he scored in the first Test against the British and Irish Lions.
Penaud made his debut for France in their defeat to South Africa in June but he marked debut with a try. The 20-year-old has had to bide his time behind Aurelien Rougerie at Clermont but he looks set for a huge future and will undoubtedly be a key player for France in the near future.
Boffelli after rising through the youth ranks in Argentina, made his debut for the senior side this year. The 22-year-old can play anywhere across the back-three but it seems like he settled on the wing for the Pumas as his preferred position. Another key attribute for the youngster is his ability to land long-range penalties which will be a key asset going forward for both club and country.
The World Rugby Awards take place in Monte Carlo on November 26.