Stars ready to be honoured at Guinness PRO14 awards

Charlie Talbot-Smith
03 May 2019

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The Guinness PRO14 Awards takes place in Dublin this Sunday, May 5 from 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 Guinness 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 also 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.

Nominee: Monty Ioane (Benetton Rugby)

Australian wing 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, summating his massive personal contributions-842 metres gained, 65 defenders beaten!

Nominee: 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 at the region, including a memorable hat-trick in last season’s Guinness PRO14 final in Dublin.

Nominee: Bill Mata (Edinburgh)

Edinburgh’s Bill Mata carried 796 metres amidst 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.

Nominee: 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.

Nominee: 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 fullback has transformed the Italian side inside his first two seasons in Treviso.

Nominee: 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 Galway-based side he’s guided them through a tough Conference A, pipping 2012 title winners Ospreys 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 Guinness PRO14 is renowned for producing, fresh new international talent year after year and this season’s nominees are no exception.

Nominee: Adam Hastings (Glasgow)

Filling Finn Russell’s shoes is no enviable task, but Glasgow Warriors’ Adam Hastings has done this with aplomb. Hastings is an x-factor outside 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.

Nominee: Darcy Graham (Edinburgh)

Another Scottish back-man who loves to carry the ball well into the opponents’ territory. The 21-year-old 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.

Darcy Graham

Nominee: 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 Japan World Cup.

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

Regarding the Guinness PRO14 Dream Team – Voting will open next week, and the team will be revealed on a TV special produced by Premier Sports & eir sport. This special programme will be broadcast in the week leading into the Guinness PRO14 Final at Glasgow’s Celtic Park on 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 9 appearances in the 2018/19 season
  • Less than 5 caps at International level at the beginning of the 2018/19 season
  • Aged under 23 at the beginning of the 2018/19 season

The Guinness PRO14 Final is one of the most entertaining games in the rugby calendar and takes place in Glasgow’s Celtic Park on May 25. Tickets start at just £25 for adults, £1 for kids. Visit www.pro14rugby.org/finaltickets

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