Fo­lau in run­ning for top award

Daily Mercury - - SPORT LEAGUE/UNION - — Jim Tucker

RUGBY UNION: Is­rael Fo­lau’s 12-try spree in 2017 has earned him a shot at break­ing the All Blacks’ stran­gle­hold on World Rugby’s cov­eted Player of the Year award.

World Rugby’s an­nual awards din­ner in Monaco on Novem­ber 26 may just be the ideal start of a Euro­pean va­ca­tion for Fo­lau, and his fi­ancee Maria Tu­taia, af­ter the full­back elected to recharge by miss­ing the Wal­la­bies’ cur­rent tour.

It is Fo­lau’s (pic­tured) first nom­i­na­tion for the pres­ti­gious gong, which has gone to a player from the world cham­pion All Blacks for seven of the past eight years.

Fo­lau’s res­o­nant form stacks up against the other con­tenders yet the judg­ing panel in­vari­ably gives the award to a player in­volved in win­ning big tro­phies, which is the miss­ing link.

Bledis­loe Cup-win­ning All Blacks Beau­den Bar­rett and Rieko Ioane have been nom­i­nated along with Eng­land’s Owen Far­rell and Maro Itoje.

New Zealand’s Kelly Bra­zier and Por­tia Wood­man, Eng­land’s Ly­dia Thompson and French pair Ro­mane Me­nager and Safi N’Di­aye have been nom­i­nated for the Women’s Player of the Year hon­our.

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