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Lions bolter Sam Simmonds succeeds Jack Willis as RPA player of the year

By PA

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Lions bolter Sam Simmonds has collected another honour in his stellar season as the Exeter No8 has been crowned Rugby Players’ Association player of the year. Simmonds has enjoyed a standout campaign, setting a new record for tries scored in a Gallagher Premiership season after crossing 20 times and securing a place in the Lions squad bound for South Africa.

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The 26-year-old’s Lions selection comes despite being overlooked by England since winning the last of his seven caps in 2018. He follows in the footsteps of Wasps flanker Jack Willis in winning the award, which is voted on by players across the Premiership.

“This award, in particular, means a lot. The way that it is picked and the way you get nominated is from players that you play against every week and throughout the season,” said Simmonds, the 2019/20 Exeter double winner.

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“So for them to recognise and notice that I have been having a strong season is fantastic and I appreciate that. Once the season is over – hopefully after a few more wins – then I can look back both individually and as part of the team and feel good about what we have achieved.”

Marcus Smith, 22, was named young player of the year after his dazzling form helped Harlequins claim a place in the Premiership playoffs with two rounds of matches to spare. “It’s always nice to be honoured for individual awards, but a lot of the credit has to go to my teammates at Harlequins. 

They have made me look good this year and without the forwards, I couldn’t have done my job. To be voted for by fellow players who I play against week in week out makes it extra special and motivates me to win more individual honours in the future hopefully.”

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Versatile England forward Poppy Cleall was named women’s player of the year.

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Lions bolter Sam Simmonds succeeds Jack Willis as RPA player of the year

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