Punters worldwide have hit the polls on RugbyPass’ Facebook and Instagram accounts as part of the initiative to decide the world’s best players in each position, as voted by the fans.
Two instalments of the series have already passed, with England second rower Maro Itoje dispatching South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth for the lock title, while World Rugby player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit pipped All Blacks star Ardie Savea in the flanker vote.
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The new week has brought with it the next wave of voting, with eight of the best wings around the globe pitted against each other in a knockout bracket.
However, neither Reece nor Ioane have made it past the quarter-final stage, leaving New Zealand without any contenders to reach the final and thus qualify for the RugbyPass Straight 8 Fan Vote World XV.
In his online clash with England speedster Johnny May, Ioane only managed to accrue only 42 percent of the fan vote across Facebook and Instagram.
The 2017 World Rugby breakthrough player of the year has been joined in the loser’s circle by Reece, whose scintillating season with both the Crusaders and All Blacks last year wasn’t enough to see him past Springboks star Makazole Mapimpi.
The 29-year-old, who played a starring role in the Springboks’ World Cup success in Japan and scored a try in the final against England, just edged Reece in a tightly-contested affair, and advanced to the semi-finals with nearly 52 percent of the vote.
There, May and Mapimpi will face off against blockbusting Fijian league convert Semi Radradra and World Rugby player of the year nominee Cheslin Kolbe.
Bordeaux star Radradra was a standout for Fiji at last year’s World Cup, two years after he made a high-profile switch to rugby union from rugby league, where he starred for the Parramatta Eels, Fiji and Australia.
His explosive exploits proved to be too much for Japan hero Kenki Fukuoka – who also won the hearts of millions through his electric displays at the World Cup – leading him to a winning margin of almost 79 percent.
Radradra will face off against Mapimpi in the second round of voting, while on the other side of the draw, it will be a clash between May and Kolbe after the South African pocket rocket saw off Wales star Josh Adams with ease.
Although Adams has proven to be a try-scoring machine in the international arena, he proved to be no match for Kolbe, with the exciting Toulouse powerhouse romping home with 89 percent of the vote.
With the second round of voting now open, both Radradra and Kolbe hold substantial leads over their opponents, but with 17 hours remaining at the time of writing, there is still plenty of time to decide who will join Itoje, Etzebeth, du Toit and Savea in the World XV.
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