Simmonds shortlisted for Land Rover Discovery of the Year
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs young gun Joe Simmonds will be looking to follow the lead of older brother Sam and be crowned Land Rover Discovery of the Season at the upcoming Premiership Rugby Awards in London.
The 22-year-old fly-half is among a six-man shortlist for the award, which recognises the league's most impressive youngsters, rewarding them for the impressive impact they’ve made on the competition this season.
Last season Sam Simmonds saw off the challenge of Gloucester's Jake Polledri and Ruan Ackermann, Wasps' Jack Willis and Worcester's Josh Adams to claim the prize which in the past has been won by a host of England stars, including our very own Henry Slade.
Playmaker Simmonds has played a pivotal role this campaign for the Chiefs, helping the Devon club to book a place in the end of season play-offs in record time, as well as going head-to-head with Gareth Steenson for the coveted No.10 jersey. His 52 points have come across 726 minutes of top-flight action.
The Chiefs Academy product will battle for this year's accolade against some of the division's brightest talent.
The full Land Rover Discovery of the Season award shortlist is:
• Joe Cokanisiga (Bath Rugby)
• Tom Curry (Sale Sharks)
• Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins)
• Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints)
• Joe Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
• Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby)
“I would say the majority of players on the list would be in my Premiership Rugby team of the year,” said David Flatman, Land Rover Ambassador. “That’s quite something when you think that they are just kids, but four or five of this six are probably among the best in their positions in the whole of Gallagher Premiership Rugby.
“It just goes to show the strength in depth of players coming through the ranks for their Premiership Rugby clubs and it’s brilliant in terms of the youth development in the league. It’s easy to stick young players in the gym and give them loads of broccoli and chicken, but to develop them and make them into good rugby players is significantly more difficult.
“It demonstrates that in certain environments there is some really good coaching of young players going on which is really important and it makes picking a shortlist really tough. Many of the previous winners of this award have gone on to earn international honours and it is a testament to the clubs and the players for the amount of work they put in.”
The shortlist was compiled by the following panel – Tom Hamilton (ESPN), Sonja McLaughlan (BBC), Corin Palmer (Premiership Rugby), Will Kelleher (Daily Mail) and Alex Lowe (The Times), while Paul Morgan (Premiership Rugby’s Communications Director) chaired the panel.
To celebrate the winning player’s achievement, the Land Rover Discovery of the Season Award winner will have the opportunity to become a Land Rover Ambassador for the 2019-20 season.
The winner will be announced at the 2019 Premiership Rugby Awards on Wednesday, 22nd May.