Premiership Rugby Cup Breakthrough Player – Round 4 nominees
Following an enthralling Round 4 ‘Derby Day’ of Premiership Rugby Cup action, Premiership Rugby are delighted to announce that Saracens’ Joel Kpoku and Gabriel Ibitoye from Harlequins have been shortlisted for this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup Breakthrough Player Award.
Launched in 2012, the Breakthrough Player Award celebrates and recognises under-23 players who have stood out in the tournament, with previous winners including the likes of Jack Nowell, Jonny May, Tom Collins and Adam Radwan.
Using Opta Rugby match statistics, a forward and back from each round, along with two players with outstanding overall competition statistics, will form a ten-man shortlist, which will be submitted to a fan vote.
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
So now let’s take a look as to why Kpoku and Ibitoye have been added to the list, with Wasps’ Tom Willis, Tom Whiteley of Saracens, Josh Bayliss of Bath Rugby, Northampton Saints’ James Grayson, Ted Hill or Worcester Warriors and Sale Sharks’ Arron Reed having already found their way onto it following the opening two rounds…
Forward – Joel Kpoku (Saracens)
Age – 19
Position – Lock
Minutes – 80
Tries – 1
Carries – 9
Metres – 27
Tackles – 30
Tackle % – 100%
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.
Back – Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
Age – 20
Position – Wing
Minutes – 80
Carries – 18
Metres – 101
Defenders Beaten – 15
Offloads – 2
Turnovers won – 2
Harlequins’ Gabriel Ibitoye was unfortunate to finish on the losing side last weekend 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.