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Wallabies pair in running for top World Rugby gongs

By AAP
(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

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Wallabies captain Michael Hooper and powerhouse teammate Samu Kerevi are among four players shortlisted for World Rugby’s male Player Of The Year award.

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The duo plus Wallabies rookie winger Andrew Kellaway and their coach Dave Rennie are all on the nominees list announced on Monday for the 2021 World Rugby Awards despite the team’s mixed bag of results.

Hooper and Kerevi are up against French halfback Antoine Dupont and English lock Maro Itoje, who also played for the British and Irish Lions against South Africa.

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The World Rugby Awards Panel selected the candidates, overlooking All Blacks players despite their domination of the Rugby Championship.

With 117 Tests behind him, Hooper delivered several player-of-the-match performances while Kerevi’s return to the Wallabies midfield sparked a five-match win streak in Australia’s best run outside of a Rugby World Cup year since 2008.

Kerevi’s absence has been keenly felt on their current Spring tour, with losses to Scotland and England.

An Australian has never won the award despite 13 nominations over its 21-year history.

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Kellaway earned a nod in the Breakthrough Player Of The Year category.

The 26-year-old has scored eight tries in his 11 Tests after making his debut against France in July.

He is up against Will Jordan (New Zealand), Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales) and Marcus Smith (England).

Rennie has been nominated for the Coach of the Year after steering the Wallabies to a series win against France and back-to-back wins against the world champion Springboks, although his team is in danger of returning winless from Europe.

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He has been shortlisted with Allan Bunting/Cory Sweeney (New Zealand Women’s Sevens), All Blacks coach Ian Foster, and Simon Middleton (England Women).

Rugby Australia boss Andy Marinos said the nominations were a personal reward for the three players and Rennie.

“This is a huge achievement, a nd great recognition for Michael, Samu, Andrew and Dave after what has been an encouraging Wallabies season,” Marinos said in a statement.

“It’s great personal reward for each of them as we continue to build into 2022 and the (2023) Rugby World Cup in France which is now just around the corner.”

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