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England’s 21-year-old flanker Tom Curry has been shortlisted for the World Rugby Player of the Year award, but teammate Maro Itoje has been surprisingly omitted from the six-man shortlist.
World Rugby have announced all of the shortlists ahead of this Sunday’s end-of-year awards, which follows Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final between England and South Africa.
It’s no surprise to see three players who will start the final named on the shortlist, with Curry joined by South African duo Pieter-Steph du Toit and Cheslin Kolbe following the Springboks’ Rugby Championship triumph and run to the final.
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Curry is not the only home nation interest included though as Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones has been shortlisted, having led his country to a Six Nations Grand Slam earlier in the year and the World Cup semi-finals, where they suffered a narrow defeat against the Springboks to leave them in Friday’s third-placed play-off against New Zealand.
The All Blacks have one representative included in the form of flanker Ardie Savea, who scored their only try against England last weekend in their semi-final defeat, although it does continue the remarkable streak of having at least one New Zealander shortlisted for the 15th year running.
The final player shortlisted is the United States’ hooker Joe Taufete’e, who last March became the most prolific front-row try-scorer in history after a hat-trick against Uruguay took him to 18 career tries in just 21 tests to surpass Keith Wood’s 13-year record.
But two players who have excelled in Japan this autumn are surprisingly left off the shortlist in the form of England lock Itoje and Fiji wing Semi Radradra, the latter of which lit up the pool stages with his phenomenal performances against Australia, Georgia and Wales. There is also no space for any Japanese players, despite their historic run to the quarter-finals on home soil.
Curry has been a standout for England all year, winning 13 of 14 Tests so far and claiming the man of the match award in the World Cup quarter-final victory over Australia.
But he will come up against a Springboks side that has lived up to expectations by following up the Rugby Championship triumph with a run to the final in Japan, with Du Toit and Kolbe a
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