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'He's earned their respect': Australian-born Irish winger nominated for award after breakout season

By AAP
Ireland's Mack Hansen celebrates his try (Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Australian-born Irish winger Mack Hansen’s brilliant arrival on the Test scene has been acknowledged by World Rugby while a pair of teammates could deny Charlotte Caslick a third sevens player of the year title.

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Australia has five players in the mix for the men’s and women’s top individual honour after the sides both won the World Series earlier this year.

Wallaroo Emily Chancellor and Wallabies centre Lalakai Foketi were shortlisted for women’s and men’s try of the year respectively in an otherwise barren showing for the 15-a-side teams.

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There is one Australian in lights though, with former Brumbies talent Hansen nominated for breakthrough player of the year after the back’s scintillating Test entrance for Ireland.

Signed by former Australia men’s sevens coach Andy Friend at Connacht in 2021, Hansen was man of the match on his Test debut and is likely to line up against his country of birth in Dublin this weekend.

“I knew he’d love Ireland and the Irish would love him … and he’s earned their respect,” former Brumbies coach and current Wallabies assistant Dan McKellar said.

“(It was) sad to see him go … but he wanted a new life experience. If we’d asked him if he was going to play for Ireland six-to-12 months into that, he would have laughed.

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“(I’m) happy for him, but hopefully we keep him quiet on Saturday.”

Caslick is in line to take home the women’s sevens top gong in consecutive years – she also won the award in 2016 – but teammates Maddison Levi and Faith Nathan stand in her way.

The emerging pair were central to the side’s 2022 triple crown, prolific try-scorer Levi in particular a standout as they added Commonwealth Games gold and a World Cup to their series triumph.

Fresh off a Hong Kong Sevens win on the weekend, men’s sevens captain Nick Malouf and livewire teammate Corey Toole have also been shortlisted for the top prize after taking Australia to their first World Series title in August.

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WORLD RUGBY AWARD NOMINATIONS

* Men’s player of the year: Lukhanyo Am (RSA), Antoine Dupont (FRA), Johnny Sexton (IRL), Josh van der Flier (IRL)

* Coach of the year: Andy Farrell (IRL men), Fabien Galthie (FRA men), Simon Middleton (ENG women), Wayne Smith (NZ women)

* Women’s breakthrough player of the year: Maud Muir (ENG), Vitalina Naikore (FIJ), Maiakawanakaulani Roos (NZL), Ruby Tui (NZL)

* Men’s breakthrough player of the year: Henry Arundell (ENG), Ange Capuozzo (ITA), Mack Hansen (IRL), Dan Sheehan (IRL)

* Women’s try of the year: Sylvia Brunt (NZL), Emily Chancellor (AUS), Abby Dow (ENG), Linda Djougang (IRL), Nomawethu Mabenge (RSA)

Men’s try of the year: Rodrigo Fernandez (CHL), Lalakai Foketi (AUS), Chris Harris (SCO), Edoardo Padovani (ITA), Louis Rees-Zammit (WAL)

Women’s sevens player of the year: Charlotte Caslick (AUS), Maddison Levi (AUS), Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (IRL), Faith Nathan (AUS)

Men’s sevens player of the year: Terry Kennedy (IRL), Nick Malouf (AUS), Kaminieli Rasaku (FIJ), Corey Toole (AUS).

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