TOP BAR - Fixtures

Saracens ace Maro Itoje humbled by Land Rover Discovery of the Season nomination

Maro Itoje must be running out of room on his mantelpiece after an award-winning year but the Saracens’ and England lock insists his feet remain firmly on the ground.

Itoje helped England to the Grand Slam earlier this year and has since returned to Saracens who claimed European Rugby Champions Cup glory – the first in their history – in Lyon last weekend.

Those performances have earned Itoje – who has not lost a single match he has started for club or country this season – a nomination for the Land Rover Discovery of the Season award.

Considering the 21-year-old has already won the RPA Young Player of the Year and the European Player of the Year gongs, you could forgive Itoje for becoming a bit cavalier about awards’ season. But the second-row – who is joined on the illustrious shortlist by Harlequin Jack Clifford, Northampton Saints’ Paul Hill and Harry Mallinder, Sale Sharks’ Sam James and Leicester Tigers’ Harry Thacker – is delighted to be included.
 
The winner of the Land Rover Discovery of the Season will be named at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards at the London Hilton, Park Lane presented by BT Sport's Craig Doyle on 18 May.
 
With past winners of the gong including England players Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola – Itoje is working hard to keep improving.
 
“When you look at the quality of the names that have been nominated, and the quality of the Aviva Premiership being so high, it is great to be nominated,” said Itoje.
 
“It is very humbling to be on the list, to be seen this way is fantastic.
 
“But it is never hard at a club like Saracens to keep your feet on the ground and we are working hard for this weekend.”
 
The dust hasn't settled after last weekend's European Rugby Champions Cup title.
 
"There hasn't been much time for everything to sink in after last weekend," added Itoje. "We know we'll have to be at our best again in this Saturday's semi-final."
 
The shortlist was compiled by Land Rover ambassador David Flatman, ESPN’S Tom Hamilton, ITV’s Nick Heath, Premiership Rugby Head of Academies and Development Mike Hynard, the Press Association’s Nick Purewal, Alex Lowe from The Times and BBC’s Sonja McLaughlan. Premiership Rugby's Communications Director Paul Morgan chaired the panel.
 
The Land Rover Discovery of the Season award forms part of Land Rover’s ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign and its commitment to supporting rugby at all levels; from grassroots to the elite, recognising the burgeoning young talent emerging through English rugby.

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 Land Rover Discovery of the Season Award recognises the most impressive young Premiership Rugby players each season. The winner will be revealed at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards on 18 May.
 
The winners will be announced first on Twitter via the @premrugby account. Use hashtag #AvivaPremAwards to join the conversation or follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal.
 

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