MX23RW : Monday, March 18 14:20:31

Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell, Billy Vunipola named on player of the year shortlist

England trio Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola are included on a six-strong shortlist for the World Rugby Player of the Year award.

England trio Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola have been included on a six-strong shortlist for World Rugby's 2016 Player of the Year award.

England have enjoyed a revival under head coach Eddie Jones, bouncing back from their ignominious group-stage exit at last year's World Cup with a 10-Test winning run that has included a Grand Slam and a 3-0 series whitewash of Australia.

Itoje, Farrell and Vunipola were also pivotal members of the Saracens team that claimed a European and Premiership double last season.

New Zealand have two nominees in Dane Coles and Beauden Barrett, while Ireland's Jamie Heaslip is also included on the shortlist.

"There is class in abundance on this shortlist. There is also a great mix of experienced, proven campaigners and exciting young talent," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

An All Black has won the award in each of the past four years, with Dan Carter scooping the prize in 2015.


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Maro Itoje faces the media during the Saracens media session held on April 14, 2015
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