Another two future stars of English rugby have emerged from the second round of matches in the Anglo-Welsh Cup to make the shortlist for the competition’s Breakthrough Player Award.
Sam Simmonds from Exeter Chiefs and Wasps’ Tom Howe were judged by the statisticians at Opta to have made the biggest impact in the competition last weekend. They join Bath Rugby’s Zach Mercer and Josh Adams from Worcester Warriors, who were the first players placed on the shortlist, after round one.
This year the competition is being supported by Citizen Watch UK who will provide the overall winner with the latest Citizen Skyhawk A-T watch and Gilbert who will supply £1,000 worth of kit to a grassroots club of the winner’s choice.
The competition is open to the best Under-23 players in the Anglo-Welsh Cup with shortlisted players being named after each round. A public vote will decide the winner ahead of the Anglo-Welsh Cup Final, which is on Sunday 19 March at the Twickenham Stoop.
Sam Simmonds produced an excellent all round performance to help his side record a big win against Cardiff Blues. The 22-year-old was in fine form with ball in hand, making a round-high five clean breaks from his 11 carries while he also beat four defenders and made four offloads. He was solid in defence too, hitting double figures for tackles made. The young flanker rounded off an impressive game by scoring a try and assisting another, proving himself as one to watch in this year’s competition.
Try Assist: 1
Clean Breaks: 5
Defenders Beaten: 4
Joining Simmonds on the list, Tom Howe was another player who enjoyed a big win at the weekend and the 21-year-old found himself in the thick of the action as he scored a try and set up another. He was in great form with the ball in hand; from just eight carries he made three clean breaks and beat two defenders, gaining 98 metres in the process, a tally only team-mate Dan Robson was able to better during the weekend’s fixtures.
Try Assist: 1
Clean Breaks: 3
Defenders Beaten: 2
Launched in 2012, the Breakthrough Player Award celebrates and recognises those young players who have stood out in the tournament with previous winners including Jack Nowell, Jonny May, Tom Collins and Ollie Devoto.
Using Opta match statistics, a forward and back from each round, along with two players with outstanding overall competition statistics will form a shortlist, which will be submitted to a fan vote on www.new-heroes.com after Round 4 (4-6 February). The winner will be announced prior to the Anglo-Welsh Cup Final.