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Fijian Pair Among Europe’s Best

  Fiji Airways Flying Fijians forwards Leone Nakarawa and Viliame Mata have been shortlisted for the EPCR European Player of the year award. Nakarawa became the first Fijian to win
26 Jan 2019 11:18
Fijian Pair Among Europe’s Best
Leone Nakarawa of Racing 92 charges upfield during the European Rugby Champions Cup final against Leinster at San Mames Stadium on May 12, 2018 in Bilbao, Spain. Photo: Zimbio

 

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians forwards Leone Nakarawa and Viliame Mata have been shortlisted for the EPCR European Player of the year award.

Nakarawa became the first Fijian to win the award last year and has been nominated again for playing a key role in Racing 92’s qualification for the Heineken Champions Cup quarterfinals.

Mata is included on the back of several outstanding displays during the pool stage for Edinburgh.

The Nakelo, Tailevu native Mata made headlines recently for a silky offload he produced against Josua Tuisova’s Toulon.

Mata’s Edinburgh will host Munster at Murrayfield while Nakarawa’s Racing play Toulouse.

Nikola Matawalu’s Glasgow Warriors will play Saracens and defending champion Leinster play Ulster in an all-Irish affair.

The current list of 15 players will be culled to five finalists in April after the Champions Cup semifinals. The top five will be decided by a combination of the public vote and a panel of judges.

The winner will be announced after the final at St James Park, home of the Newcastle Football Club, on May 11.

The winner of one of the most prized individual accolades in the world game will receive a specially struck gold medal as well as the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy.

Irish players have seven of the 15 available nominee slots, England have just two representatives in Saracens Alex Goode and Mako Vunipola, France five and Scotland one.

Nakarawa and Mata played key roles for Fiji during the November tour and were influential in the 21-14 win over France.

And coach John McKee expects the duo together with France based Semi Radradra, Josua Tuisova, Ben Volavola, Peceli Yato  and Semi Kunatani to light up the 2019 Rugby World Cup which starts in September

2019 nominees: Tadhg Beirne (Munster), Joey Carbery (Munster), Sean Cronin (Leinster), Antoine Dupont (Toulouse), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Alex Goode (Saracens), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse), Viliame Mata (Edinburgh)

Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92), Peter O’Mahony (Munster),Garry Ringrose (Leinster), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Jacob Stockdale (Ulster), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Simon Zebo (Racing 92).

Edited by  Leone Cabenatabua

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