The annual Principality Premiership Presentation night will be held on Thursday night at the Millennium Stadium and two rising stars from the Blues region, Tom James and Sam Warburton, are in the running for the Best Newcomer Award.
The Principality Premiership simply gets better season after season and the 2006/07 campaign was the most keenly contested since the Premiership began in 2003, said WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis.
The Premiership is well represented in Australia with Tom James and Jamie Corsi both waiting to follow in the footsteps of last season's top talent (2006 winner Alun Wyn Jones toured with Wales to Argentina last year). The Premiership is supposed to be the breeding ground for the professional tier in our game and it is fulfilling all its obligations on that front.
Last years Player of the Year award went to Bedwas centre Phil Dolman who has since graduated via the WRU Dragons Academy into the senior Dragons side and has regularly featured in Magners League and European fixtures. Dolman and Wyn Jones will be on hand on Thursday to hand over the awards to 2007 winners, along with Bridgends Chris Stephens who will do the honours for the Coach of the Year award.
There will be five Principality Building Society awards up for grabs on Thursday night:
COACH OF THE YEAR
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
SERVICES TO RUGBY
FAIR PLAY AWARD
Nominations from the Premiership clubs and WRU high performance staff have produced short lists for the following awards:
PRINCIPALITY BUILDING SOCIETY PREMIERSHIP BEST NEWCOMER
TOM JAMES burst onto the Premiership scene this season after moving from his home town club of Merthyr to Cardiff. Athletic's loss proved to be rugbys gain as the former Welsh junior 1500 metre international became an instant hit in blue and black. He was voted Player of the Tournament as Cardiff won the Selkirk Centenary Sevens before the season started and he grabbed 11 tries in the Premiership earning an early season Player of the Month award. More tries would surely have flowed had he not been snapped up by Cardiff Blues to play in both the Heineken Cup and the Magners League. He played for the Wales U20 side and Wales Sevens before capping an incredible year with a late call-up to the Wales squad currently preparing for the second Test in Australia.
SAM WARBURTON is currently taking his A levels at Whitchurch High School, yet was voted the Principality Player of the Month for January after helping the Wanderers beat Bridgend, Bedwas and Maesteg. The 18-year-old was man of the match in all three games. A member of the WRU Blues Academy with outstanding results in fitness and speed, he captained Wales at the IRB U19 World Championships in Belfast in the spring, leading his side to a fourth place finish. A No.8 and flanker who is a commanding presence at the line-out and in the loose, Sam has a big future ahead of him.
Also nominated is JASON TOVEY who became Newports youngest Premiership player and scorer when he made his debut at the start of the season when still only 18.
PRINCIPALITY BUILDING SOCIETY COACH OF THE YEAR
ALEX CODLING Ebbw Vale
SIMON KING Pontypridd
IESTYN THOMAS Llandovery
PRINCIPALITY BUILDING SOCIETY PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JOHN BOWD Ebbw Vale
DAFYDD LOCKYER Pontypridd
MORGAN STODDARD Llanelli
A collection will be held on Thursday night towards Bala RFC's appeal in aid of Bryan Davies, the club stalwart who was paralysed at the end of the season in his final match for the club.