England snubbed as Pocock and Hooper battle for individual honour

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Nominated: David Pocock and Michael Hooper. Photo: Getty Images RWC Schedule: When is the Rugby World Cup final?Full coverage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup
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LONDON: The world player of the year selection panel has added further misery to England’s dour World Cup campaign, snubbing the host nation’s stars for the top individual gong in world rugby.

Wallabies duo Michael Hooper and David Pocock are two of the six players who will compete for the player of the year prize after nominations were released on the eve of the World Cup final.

Four of the players in contention played in the World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand, with All Blacks duo Dan Carter and Julian Savea getting the bod.

Scotland’s inspirational captain Greig Laidlaw and Wales lock Alun Wyn-Jones round out the nominations.

But the glaring omission is of an England player to add more pain to a disastrous World Cup for the home nation.

The RFU has launched a review of its rugby program and coach Stuart Lancaster’s job is on the line as they search for answers.

England became the first host nation in World Cup history to be bundled out of the tournament before the quarter-finals stage.

Speculation is mounting that Sam Burgess will return to rugby league and Lancaster’s reputation is in tatters.

Now they’ve been overlooked for individual honours and no one can argue, with southern hemisphere players dominating the nominations, which will be announced on Sunday night (Monday morning AEDT).

“The World Cup has a huge bearing on the best player of the year,” said former Wallabies coach John Connolly.

“David Pocock had an outstanding tournament and so did Alun Wyn-Jones, they were both superb in their matches.

“So it’s no surprise that what happens in a World Cup dictates what happens there and they’re selected on form. Australia and New Zealand are up there in the world, England had a horror campaign.”

Wallabies coach Micahel Cheika has also been nominated for coach of the year.

Cheika couldn’t split Pocock and Hooper when picking his team, so he decided to unleash a tag-team openside flanker combination.

World Rugby panelists couldn’t split them either with Australia’s premier flankers now battling for a player of the year prize instead of the Wallabies’ No. 7 jersey.

Pocock has been superb in his comeback from two knee reconstructions, dominating the Test arena and leading the statistics at the World Cup for turnovers.

Hooper continues his career surge. Despite being just 24 years old he has already played 50 Tests, won a Super Rugby grand final with the NSW Waratahs and captained the Wallabies.

Carter is the crafty New Zealand veteran who will move to French rugby after the World Cup while Julian Savea is the new All Blacks version of Jonah Lomu.

“This has been a very special year for rugby with some of outstanding individual team performances,” said Wallabies 1999 World Cup-winning captain and world player of the year chair John Eales.

Through the voting and consultation the panel has concluded the six worthy finalists ??? Being a World Cup year, particular weighting has been given to World Cup performances.”

The selection panel comprises of: Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphael Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustin Picot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace, as well as journalists Pierre Galy (AFP), Stephen Jones (The Sunday Times), Georgina Robinson (Sydney Morning Herald), Jim Kayes (TV3) and Sergio Stuart (Ole, Argentina).

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