Am, Mabenge top award contenders

LISTED: Lukhanyo Am’s credentials as one of the best players in the world have been cemented by World Rugby as one of the nominees for World Player of the Year Picture: SUPPLIED

Springbok midfield maestro Lukhanyo Am and Springbok women’s player Nomawethu Mabenge were some of the main nominees in the World Rugby Awards 2022.

World Rugby has unveiled the shortlist for the prestigious World Rugby Awards 2022, which will be presented in Monaco on Sunday, November 20.

Follows a stellar year for international rugby culminating in a record-breaking Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand, nominees for the sports ultimate accolade feature players, coaches and unsung heroes who have made their mark on 2022 both on and off the field.

Am has been in stellar form for the Springboks and has cemented the number 13 jersey as his own. His playmaking abilities and excellent defensive reads has been a thing of beauty, astonishing. Unfortunately, an injury has ruled him out for the rest of the year. Earlier this year, Am was named the South African Players Player of the Year.

He will face stiff competition for the World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year with previous winners Antoine Dupont of France and Johnny Sexton of Ireland amongst the front runners. It is the first time Am has been nominated for the World Rugby top award. Josh van der Flier of Ireland was part of his team historic series win over the All Blacks in New Zealand and has also been nominated for the first time.

Nomawethu Mabenge combined strength, agility and pace to run in from halfway against Spain to score a superb try, which is nominated as one of the International Women’s Try of the Year.

However, three team tries and two solo efforts make the list.  Sylvia Brunt from New Zealand was on hand to supply the finishing touch for New Zealand against Wales, following a move that was supercharged by Ruahei Demant break. Australia was eliminated from the RWC 2021 at the quarter-final stage but scored one of the tries of the tournament against England as Emily Chancellor slid in after some quick hands in difficult conditions. Another fine team move from Ireland against Wales in the Women’s Six Nations ended with a superb offload from Sam Monaghan to the onrushing Linda Djougang. Abby Dow of England showed impressive pace to finish a fine length of the pitch effort at a crucial moment in their Rugby World Cup 2021 semi-final against Canada.

Selected by a star-studded World Rugby Awards panels, nominees in nine categories were announced by World Rugby on various media channels and the World Rugby Media Zone. The other categories to be awarded on Sunday include the world rugby referee award, world rugby coach of the year, Vernon Pugh award for distinguished service and the popular World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s Dream Teams of the Year in partnership with Capgemini.

There is also the World Rugby Men’s and Women’s breakthrough player of the year. International Rugby Players Women 15s player of the year, International Rugby Players Men’s Try of the Year and World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Sevens Player of the Year.

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