After another thrilling conclusion to the NatWest 6 Nations, the shortlist has been revealed for the prestigious NatWest Player of the Championship featuring four Ireland players, one Italian player and one French player.
Out-half Jonathan Sexton and scrum half Conor Murray were instrumental in Ireland’s Grand Slam success this year, as were both wingers, 21-year-old revelation Jacob Stockdale – scoring a record-breaking seven tries – and Keith Earls, in the form of his life at the age of 30.
Young full-back Matteo Minozzi impressed for Italy, becoming the first Italian player in the history of the NatWest 6 Nations to score a try in four successive games, while France’s Guilhem Guirado defensive game was arguably the strongest of his career.
For the first time, the NatWest Player of the Championship shortlist was selected by a media panel of well-respected rugby writers and broadcasters from each of the six nations. The panel each provided their top three nominations for the award following the conclusion of round five. All votes were compiled and added together to identify the six-man shortlist.
The shortlist is now open for public voting on NatWest 6 Nations digital channels so that rugby fans around the world can choose the player they believe should pick up the accolade as the 2018 NatWest Player of the Championship.
Last season, Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg collected the award for a second successive year.
The media panel were provided with Opta stats from the entire Championship to help with their selections. The overall winner will be announced on Friday.
2018 NATWEST PLAYER OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP SHORTLIST:
2018 NATWEST PLAYER OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP MEDIA PANEL: Renaud Bourel (L’Equipe), Mick Cleary (Daily Telegraph), Michael Corcoran (RTE Radio), Ross Harries (BBC Wales), Matthieu Lartot (France TV), Lee McKenzie (BBC), Sarah Mockford (Rugby World), Andy Nicol (Scottish Daily Mail), Mark Palmer (Sunday Times Scotland), Antonio Raimondi (DMAX), Simon Thomas (Wales Online), Gerry Thornley (Irish Times), Francesco Volpe (Corriere dello Sport)