Finn Russell and Bill Mata among nominees for rugby’s EPCR award

Bill Mata, left, and Finn Russell are among the 15 nominees. Pictures: SNS Group
Bill Mata, left, and Finn Russell are among the 15 nominees. Pictures: SNS Group
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Scotland international Finn Russell and Edinburgh No.8 Bill Mata have both been nominated for rugby’s prestigious EPCR European Player of the Year award.

Fly-half Russell is joined by his Racing 92 team-mates Simon Zebo and last year’s winner Leone Nakarawa. Toulouse, who face Racing 92 in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals, have two hopefuls in France international scrum-half Antoine Dupont and South African wing Cheslin Kolbe.

Just two English players make the list - Saracens prop Mako Vunipola and his Allianz Park team-mate Alex Goode - while Munster have three representatives on the 15-strong list following their fine 41-15 win over Gloucester at Kingsholm earlier this month.

Fly-half Joey Carbery, who scored 26 points in that match, is joined by lock Tadhg Beirne and captain Peter O’Mahony.

Three Leinster players have also been nominated with Sean Cronin joined by fellow Ireland caps Tadhg Furlong and Garry Ringrose.

Ulster wing Jacob Stockdale completes the list of nominees.

The list will be whittled down to five players in April, following completion of the Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals, with a combination of public vote and the verdict of the panel of judges determining the final quintet.

Players who make a significant impact in the quarter-finals or semi-finals but who were not included in the original list may be considered for inclusion.

The outright winner will take home a specially-struck gold medal as well as the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy, named in memory of Munster’s late head coach.

The winner of the 2019 award will be announced following the Heineken Champions Cup final at St James’ Park on Saturday May 11.

EPCR European Player of the Year award 2019 nominees

Tadhg Beirne (Munster)

Joey Carbery (Munster)

Sean Cronin (Leinster)

Antoine Dupont (Toulouse)

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster)

Alex Goode (Saracens)

Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse)

Viliame Mata (Edinburgh)

Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92)

Peter O’Mahony (Munster)

Garry Ringrose (Leinster)

Finn Russell (Racing 92)

Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)

Mako Vunipola (Saracens)

Simon Zebo (Racing 92)