Premiership Rugby and Land Rover today confirmed that six of the brightest young players in English rugby have been shortlisted for this season’s Land Rover Discovery of the Season award.
Players from Harlequins, Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks and Saracens have emerged in the race to recognise the most impressive young players in Aviva Premiership Rugby, rewarding them for their outstanding contribution to the competition this season.
The full Land Rover Discovery of the Season shortlist is:
- Jack Clifford – Harlequins
- Paul Hill – Northampton Saints
- Maro Itoje – Saracens
- Sam James – Sale Sharks
- Harry Mallinder – Northampton Saints
- Harry Thacker – Leicester Tigers
"What I love about the Land Rover Discovery of the Season Award is the whole notion of young players landing in the world of the elite and absolutely tearing that world up," said David Flatman, Land Rover Ambassador and one of the judges for this season’s award.
"These youngsters are coming up against established and experienced players and making them sit up and take note; emerging as genuine talents.
"This shortlist took a long time to sign off not because there’s a paucity of great young players but because there’s a surplus."
Players aged under-23 on 16 October 2015 are eligible to win Land Rover Discovery of the Season and to make the shortlist, the player must have featured in five or more Aviva Premiership Rugby matches in the 2015-16 season.
"The shortlist for this season’s Land Rover Discovery of the Season award goes to show the talented young players being produced by the Premiership Rugby clubs” added Jenny Smith, Sponsorship and Partnerships Manager at Land Rover UK.
"For Land Rover to be able to recognise and reward these players is incredibly important as it forms part of the commitment to supporting rugby at all levels. This award in particular is testament to the strong future of the game."
The shortlist was compiled by the following panel – David Flatman (Land Rover Ambassador), Tom Hamilton (EPSN Scrum.com), Nick Heath (ITV), Mike Hynard (Premiership Rugby Head of Academies and Development), Nick Purewal (Press Association), Alex Lowe (The Times) and Sonja McLaughlan (BBC). Paul Morgan (Premiership Rugby's Communications Director) chaired the panel.
The winner will rub shoulders with the biggest names in English rugby at a glittering ceremony at the London Hilton, Park Lane presented by BT Sport's Craig Doyle.
Along with the winner of the Land Rover Discovery of the Season, the winners of the following awards will also be announced on 18 May:
- Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season
- Aviva Community Player of the Season
- BT Sport Dream Team
- Citizen Try of the Season
- Gilbert Golden Boot
- Green Flag Forward of the Season
- Guinness Director of Rugby of the Season
- Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Player of the Series
- Trivento Top Try Scorer of the Season
- Women's Premiership Players’ Player of the Year
To celebrate the player's achievement, the winner of the Land Rover Discovery of the Season Award will have the opportunity to become a Land Rover Ambassador for the 2016-17 season.
The winner will be announced on Wednesday 18 May at the sold out Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards at the Hilton, Park Lane, first on Twitter via the @premrugby account. Use hashtag #AvivaPremAwards to join the conversation.
2015-16: Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
2013-14: Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
2012-13: Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
2011-12: Owen Farrell (Saracens)
2010-11: Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
2009-10: Ben Youngs, (Leicester Tigers)
2008-9: Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins)
2007-8: Danny Cipriani (London Wasps)
2006-7: Tom Rees (London Wasps)
2005-6: Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers)
2004-5: Ollie Smith (Leicester Tigers)