England’s Maro Itoje in running for world player of the year

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England lock Maro Itoje has been nominated for world player of the year.

The 27-year-old Saracens forward features on a four-strong shortlist announced by World Rugby alongside France scrum-half Antoine Dupont, Australia captain Michael Hooper and his Wallabies colleague Samu Kerevi.

Itoje, who won his 50th England cap in Saturday’s victory over Australia at Twickenham, was nominated for the prestigious award in 2016 and 2017, when it was won on each occasion by New Zealander Beauden Barrett.

Jonny Wilkinson is the only previous English winner, taking top honours in 2003 when England were crowned world champions.

Despite their Test series victory over the British and Irish Lions this summer, when Itoje was arguably the Lions’ stand-out performer, world champions South Africa have no nominations.

And it is the first since 2004 that the All Blacks have failed to secure at least one shortlisted player.

Zoe Aldcroft
Zoe Aldcroft is in contention for the women’s award (David Davies/PA).

World Rugby also announced the women’s player of the year shortlist, which includes England forwards Zoe Aldcroft and Poppy Cleall, while England Women’s coach Simon Middleton is among coach of the year nominations.

And the breakthrough player of the year contenders feature England and Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith, in addition to Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit.

The men’s and women’s player of the year categories will be decided by a fan vote.

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