As the Premiership Rugby Cup has reached the final stage of the season, a total of 10 nominations has been announced for the Premiership Rugby Cup Breakthrough Player Award.
The award was first introduced in 2012 and has been a backbone in encouraging young talents with the past winners include the likes of Jack Nowell, Jonny May, Tom Collins and Adam Radwan.
The nominations list is dominated by Saracens, who are in the final with Matt Gallagher, Joel Kpoku and Tom Whiteley making to the final 10 while Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby), Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), Arron Reed (Sale Sharks), Tom Willis (Wasps), Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins) and Josh Caulfield (Exeter Chiefs) form the remainder of the nominations.
The voting will close midnight on Thursday > Click here to cast your vote
Josh Bayliss – Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby’s young back row Josh Bayliss put in an impressive shift in Round 1 despite his side’s defeat against Harlequins. The 21-year-old was busy in both defence and attack, making 17 tackles and missing just one, as well as carrying 13 times.
James Grayson – Northampton Saints
James Grayson played exactly an hour of Northampton Saints’ Round 1 victory over Bristol Bears and made his presence known during his spell on the pitch. No player scored as many points as the Saints fly-half who kicked six goals and crossed for a try. In fact, he was one of just four players to both score and assist a try in the opening round of the Premiership Rugby Cup.
Ted Hill – Worcester Warriors
Worcester’s Ted Hill showed just why Eddie Jones is such a fan with a fine display in the Warriors’ victory away at Leicester Tigers in Round 2. Wearing the number six shirt Hill was the only forward to both score and assist a try, while his 19 tackles could only be bettered by Gloucester Rgby’s Aaron Hinkley. Hill also made eight carries and two breaks gaining 39 metres in the process.
Arron Reed – Sale Sharks (pictured)
Teenager Arron Reed put on a fantastic running display during Sale Sharks’ 15-15 draw with Saracens in Round 2. The young winger made the most breaks and beat the most defenders of any player, while he was one of just three players to gain 100+ metres with ball in hand.
Tom Willis – Wasps
Tom Willis was relentless against Bristol Bears, despite finishing on the losing side, as he was the only player in Round 3 to make 15+ carries and 15+ tackles. He made two breaks, beat four defenders and gained 50 metres from his 15 carries, while no forward made more successful offloads than the young back row. He also made all 16 of his attempted tackles and won a turnover for his side in an impressive all-round performance.
Tom Whiteley – Saracens
Tom Whiteley gave a strong showing for Saracens during their victory over Worcester Warriors in Round 3, playing the full 80 minutes. The 22-year-old’s 13 carries was bettered by only one back (Piers O’Connor – 14) while he ranked in the top five for defenders beaten, evading seven attempted tackles. His fine display was capped off with two try assists, while he also helped add to his team’s points tally with the boot, slotting over a couple of conversions.
Joel Kpoku – Saracens
Saracens’ Joel Kpoku put in a huge shift as he helped his side beat Harlequins in Round 4. The 19-year-old played the full 80 minutes in the second row, making nine carries and gaining 27 metres. However, it was his defensive work that was most impressive as he made 30 tackles, more than any other player in Round 4, all without missing a single hit. Kpoku also crossed the try line to cap off a fine display.
Gabriel Ibitoye – Harlequins
Harlequins’ Gabriel Ibitoye was unfortunate to finish on the losing side against Saracens after an impressive performance on the wing. The 20-year-old played the full 80 minutes, making 18 carries and beating an incredible 15 defenders – more than anyone else in Round 4. He was also one of just four players to gain 100+ metres, while he was also busy in defence, winning two turnovers for his team.
Josh Caulfield – Exeter Chiefs
The 21-year-old Exeter Chiefs forward showed his versatility as he featured in both the second and back row, playing in all four of his side’s matches. Josh Caulfield made 64 tackles - more than any other player – during his 285 minutes on the pitch, while only three forwards could better his tally of 41 carries.
Matt Gallagher – Saracens
The Saracens full-back featured in all four rounds, clocking up 297 minutes and making the most carries and metres of any player, as well as making six clean breaks and hitting double figures for defenders beaten. Even when he was tackled 22-year-old Matt Gallagher still proved a threat by making seven successful offloads, a tally no player could better during the four rounds of action.
The winner will be announced prior to the Premiership Rugby Cup Final, with the lucky recipient also receiving a Promaster Tough watch courtesy of Premiership Rugby partner Citizen, while Gilbert, Official Ball and Rugby Clothing Partner of Premiership Rugby, will supply £1,000 worth of kit to a grassroots club of the winner’s choice.