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Cullen And Friend Nominated For PRO14 Coach Of The Season Award

Cullen And Friend Nominated For PRO14 Coach Of The Season Award

Australian Andy Friend has guided Connacht to play-off rugby in Europe and the GUINNESS PRO14, as well as qualification for next season's Heineken Champions Cup ©INPHO/James Crombie

The GUINNESS PRO14 Awards take place in Dublin this Sunday at the Guinness Storehouse where the great and the good from the Championship will come together to celebrate this season’s winners.

Nine awards will be presented at the event which will play host to top international players and coaches from each PRO14 team across five countries. Fans will be able to follow the event and the identity of the award winners as they are announced across PRO14 Rugby’s social media channels.

The nominees for three of the most prestigious awards can be revealed ahead of Sunday’s marquee event.

GUINNESS Players’ Player of the Season

The prize most sportsmen feel most honoured to win is one voted upon by their fellow players. The GUINNESS Players’ Player of the Season is a special award recognised by those who have been so impressed by playing against the winner.

Monty Ioane (Benetton Rugby)

Australian winger Monty Ioane’s phenomenal form this season inspired the underdogs from Benetton to become the first Italian side to qualify for the GUINNESS PRO14 final series. His statistics are nearly off the chart, with his massive personal contributions including 842 metres gained and 65 defenders beaten.

Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets)

Sensational runs and diving one-handed finishes are Johnny McNicholl’s trademark, the 2017 GUINNESS PRO12 winner ran in 11 tries this season. A potent attacking runner, he impressively touched down 27 times in his first 59 appearances for the Scarlets, including a memorable hat-trick in last season’s PRO14 final in Dublin.

Bill Mata (Edinburgh)

Edinburgh number 8 Bill Mata made 796 metres from 290 carries on his way to scoring five tries in just 16 appearances this season. Big Bill’s Fijian Sevens and rugby league upbringing are clearly showcased by his supreme power and defence-breaking ability.

GUINNESS PRO14 Coach of the Season

All sports teams need a figure at the helm to rule the roost and make their players tick. The GUINNESS PRO14 is fortunate to have a top-class group of leaders which is represented in the top-class list of men nominated for the award by their fellow coaches.

Leo Cullen (Leinster)

Leo Cullen’s juggernauts continue to charge on both the domestic and European Cup fronts. Saracens in the Champions Cup final next Saturday in Newcastle kicks off a massive couple of weeks for Leinster, who will also be intent on retaining their GUINNESS PRO14 title.

Kieran Crowley (Benetton)

Benetton’s place in the final series has been the most neutral rewarding story of the 2018/19 GUINNESS PRO14 season, and a lot of the credit deserves to be landed at the feet of Kieran Crowley. The former All Black full-back has transformed the Italian side inside his first two seasons in Treviso.

Andy Friend (Connacht)

Connacht’s Andy Friend is another of many Antipodean-born coaches now plying his trade in Europe. In just his first season with the westerners he has guided them through a tough Conference A, pipping the Ospreys, the 2012 champions, to a place in the last six.

Energia Next Gen Star of the Season

Evolving from the Young Player of the Year award, the Energia Next-Gen Star of the Season is voted upon by the media with former players and coaches also having their say. The PRO14 is renowned for producing, fresh new international talent year after year and this season’s nominees are no exception.

Adam Hastings (Glasgow)

Filling Finn Russell’s boots is no enviable task, but Glasgow Warriors’ Adam Hastings has done this with aplomb. Hastings is an X-factor out-half, keen to attack with flare from all areas of the pitch, and has the metres gained and defenders beaten stats from this season to back up his ambition.

Darcy Graham (Edinburgh)

Another Scottish back who loves to carry the ball well into the opponents’ territory. The 21-year-old speedster stormed onto the international scene with his brace in Scotland’s phenomenal Calcutta Cup comeback in March with the kind of rugby Edinburgh fans have had the pleasure of seeing all season.

Owen Lane (Cardiff Blues)

The 21-year-old Cardiff Blues back has impressed with 20 clean breaks, 88 carries and 598 metres gained on his way to scoring eight tries from wing and centre this season. Stats deservedly rewarded with having just been called up to the Wales training squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

New Award to be Unveiled

Big Red Cloud have introduced a new award that will also be announced at the event at the Guinness Storehouse this Sunday evening. The award will recognise a player who is able to accumulate one of the most valuable statistics on the pitch that makes a big difference to the final scoreline.

GUINNESS PRO14 Dream Team 

Voting for the GUINNESS PRO14 Dream Team will open next week, and the team will be revealed on a TV special produced by Premier Sports and eir Sport. This special programme will be broadcast in the week leading into the PRO14 final at Glasgow’s Celtic Park on Saturday, May 25.

The Energia Next-Gen Star of the Season award was voted on by a 75-strong media panel from across Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and South Africa.

Eligibility criteria for Energia Next-Gen Star of the Season:

– At least nine appearances in the 2018/19 season
– Less than five caps at international level at the beginning of the 2018/19 season
– Aged under 23 at the beginning of the 2018/19 season