Northampton Saints No 8 Samu Manoa was today named Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month for December.
The American back rower was instrumental in an impressive month for his club as they beat Leicester Tigers and Harlequins in Aviva Premiership Rugby and completed back-to-back victories in the European Rugby Champions Cup.
"Samu is an amazing athlete first, partnered with handling skills that don't normally go hand in hand with a man of his size," said BT Sport analyst and Aviva ambassador Austin Healey. "Adding his remarkable agility that makes for almost the perfect rugby recipe.
"He has been one of the biggest ‘finds’ in world rugby over the past few years since arriving at Northampton Saints and has made a huge impact in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
Saints are still on course for success in all three competitions this season and Healey believes Manoa has been instrumental in their success.
"Samu has given Saints constant go forward in both attack and defence thus making him vital in their pursuit for back to back Aviva Premiership Rugby titles" Healey added.
"He is rightfully way ahead for Player of the Season at the halfway point but until then he'll just have to make do with the player of the month for December. If he continues to carry/offload/beat defenders in the same manner as last year, 2015 could well be the year of the Saint again."
Manoa beat an impressive shortlist of Wasps duo Nathan Hughes and Andy Goode who made the final four alongside Bath Rugby centre Jonathan Joseph.
In the Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month award, rugby fans also had their say on who deserves to win the coveted monthly award, as they became the 10th Judge. Joining the panel of nine judges, fans voted for the player that had impressed them the most during the month of December.
Fans can get involved and vote for their Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month for January by visiting www.aviva.co.uk/10thjudge from noon on Monday 2 February. Each month, one lucky fan who votes will be selected at random and win four tickets to an Aviva Premiership Rugby game of their choice!
As well as securing the votes of hundreds of fans, Manoa was voted for by a panel of media professionals – Nick Mullins (BT Sport), Alastair Eykyn (BT Sport), Mick Cleary (Daily Telegraph), Steve James (Sunday Telegraph), Sarah Mockford (Rugby World), Jill Douglas (ITV Sport), Chris Jones (Radio 5 Live), David Rogers (Getty Images) and Ben Coles (Planet Rugby). The panel was chaired by Paul Morgan Premiership Rugby's Communications Director.
Manoa wins a trophy and £250 to a charity of his choice.
Winners in the 2014-15 season
September – Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
October – Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby)
November – Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
December – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
Winners in the 2013-14 season
September – Jacques Burger (Saracens)
October – Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
November – George Ford (Bath Rugby)
December – Nick Easter (Harlequins)
January – Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
February – Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers)
March – Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
April – Chris Ashton (Saracens)