Dynamic Wallabies’ back-rowers David Pocock and Michael Hooper are set to lock horns with All Blacks stars Julian Savea and Dan Carter for player-of-the-year honours as well in as Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final.
The four are among six nominees for the World Rugby honour with Pocock a warm favourite to become the first Australian to win the award, which will be announced in London on Sunday (Monday morning AEDT).
The outstanding ball scavenger has been the player of the World Cup, and heading into the final at Twickenham on Saturday (Sunday morning AEDT), he has solidified his place as a breakdown terror by forcing 14 turnovers in four games. That’s five clear of his nearest rival.
It is Pocock’s third nomination for the award and caps off a remarkable comeback from consecutive ACL injuries which sidelined him for the past two years.
Wallabies vice-captain Hooper receives his first nomination, having become the fastest and second-youngest player to reach 50 Test caps – which the 24-year-old did in Australia’s gritty semi-final victory over Argentina last weekend.
Alongside blindside flanker Scott Fardy, Hooper and Pocock have formed the world’s most dominant back-row combination and have played a key role in the Wallabies reaching this weekend’s World Cup decider where they will face, among others, the devastating Savea.
Nicknamed “The Bus” for his sheer size and power, the 102kg winger has matched famed All Black Jonah Lomu by eclipsing his try-scoring feats in 20 fewer Tests.
He’s also scored eight tries at this World Cup and is regarded as the world’s most destructive back.
Carter, earning his fifth nomination, is a two-time winner of the award and will bow out from Test rugby after Saturday’s final.
The award is weighted towards performances from the World Cup, ensuring Pocock, Hooper, Savea and Carter’s contributions will be viewed favourably.
“This has been a very special year for rugby with some outstanding individual and team performances,” said the Wallabies’ 1999 World Cup-winning captain John Eales, who is chairman of the awards panel.
“Through voting and consultation the panel has concluded six worthy finalists for the player-of-the-year award.
“Being a World Cup year, particular weighting has been given to World Cup performances, where there are four candidates who will contest the final on Saturday.”
Also nominated are Wales second-rower Alun Wyn Jones and Scotland’s goalkicking captain Greig Laidlaw.
2014 Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)
2013 Kieran Read (New Zealand)
2012 Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2011 Thierry Dusautoir (France)
2010 Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2009 Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2008 Shane Williams (Wales)
2007 Bryan Habana (South Africa)
2006 Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2005 Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2004 Schalk Burger (South Africa)
2003 Jonny Wilkinson (England)
2002 Fabien Galthie (France)
2001 Keith Wood (Ireland)