Samoans dominate Player of the Year shortlist

Samoans dominate Player of the Year shortlist

The International Rugby Board has announced a shortlist of four nominees for IRB Sevens Player of the Year. The IRB Sevens Player of the Year will be announced at Murrayfield Stadium at the conclusion of this weekend’s Edinburgh Sevens (29-30 May), the final event of the 2009/10 IRB Sevens World Series.

The International Rugby Board has announced a shortlist of four nominees for IRB Sevens Player of the Year.

The IRB Sevens Player of the Year will be announced at Murrayfield Stadium at the conclusion of this weekend’s Edinburgh Sevens (29-30 May), the final event of the 2009/10 IRB Sevens World Series.

The shortlist comprises three Samoans reflecting the Islanders' performances in this year's World Series. They are on brink of their first ever title following consecutive wins in Las Vegas, Adelaide and Hong Kong.

Mikaele Pesamino, Lolo Lui and Alafoti Fa'osiliva will hope to emulate countryman Uale Mai, who scooped the award in 2006.

Also nominated is England’s Ben Gollings (England) who could follow in the footsteps of former teammates Simon Amor and Ollie Phillips, the first and most recent winners of the coveted prize. 

Pesamino is the favourite to scoop the major award coming off the back of an incredible season which has seen him score 50 tries. Lolo Lui has proved an inspirational captain for the Samoans, whilst Alafoti Fa'osiliva has been the outstanding forward on the circuit.

Veteran Ben Gollings is the only current player to have played in every World Series since 1999. England’s playmaker has been hugely consistent all year, scoring his 200th IRB try at last weekend’s London Sevens.

All four players were nominated and voted on by the team management of the 12 core teams in the IRB Sevens World Series.

"The 2009/2010 IRB Sevens World Series has been the most competitive to date, delivering a feast of compelling action, spectacular tries and raising the bar once again in terms of attendance and broadcast figures as the sport continues to reach out to new audiences around the world," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"With the countdown to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro well under way, we are also seeing the emergence of new nations as title contenders. This shortlist reflects the exceptional season that Samoa has experienced, thrilling fans around the world, and as we look ahead to the Series climax all eyes will be on who will claim the ultimate individual accolade in Rugby Sevens."

Previous IRB Sevens Player of the Year:
2004 Simon Amor, England
2005 Orene Ai'i, New Zealand
2006 Uale Mai, Samoa
2007 Afeleke Pelenise, New Zealand
2008 DJ Forbes, New Zealand
2009 Ollie Phillips, England