Leone Nakarawa has been rewarded for an outstanding European campaign by being named EPCR European Player of the Year for 2018.
The winner of the award was determined by a combination of a public vote and the verdict of an expert panel. A record 21,000 votes were registered from fans since the list of nominees for the award was named at the end of January.
To scoop the award Nakarawa fought off Racing teammate Maxime Machenaud along with Leinster’s star trio of Scott Fardy, Tadhg Furlong and Johnny Sexton to become the first Top 14 player to win the award since 2015.
His performances in the Champions Cup received widespread acclaim throughout the season with his try in Racing’s quarter-final win at Clermont voted as the best of the knockout rounds on ChampionsCupRugby.com.
Nakarawa is in elite company, with previous winners of the award including the likes of Owen Farrell, Jonny Wilkinson and Ronan O’Gara.
The 30-year-old Fijian has been with Racing since 2016, joining the French side after three years with Glasgow Warriors.
On top of his 47 appearances for his native Fiji, the athletic lock is also an Olympic gold medal winner, scoring a try in the 2016 Summer Olympics gold medal match against Great Britain.
2017/18 panel: Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports/The Sunday Times), Chris Jones(BBC Radio 5 Live), Matthieu Lartot (France Televisions), Emmanuel Massicard(Midi Olympique), Brian O’Driscoll (BT Sport), Dimitri Yachvili (beIN SPORTS).
Roll of Honour
2018: Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92)
2017: Owen Farrell (Saracens)
2016: Maro Itoje (Saracens)
2015: Nick Abendanon (ASM Clermont Auvergne)
2014: Steffon Armitage (RC Toulon)
2013: Jonny Wilkinson (RC Toulon)
2012: Rob Kearney (Leinster Rugby)
2011: Sean O’Brien (Leinster Rugby)
2010: Ronan O’Gara (Munster Rugby)
Tell us what you think about the Rugby World Cup and you could win £100