Jan 5 Saracens lock and former England Under-20 captain Maro Itoje is set to usher in his likely elevation to the senior side with the honour of being named the English Premiership's rugby player of the month for December.
After working his way through England's youth ranks, the 21-year-old is expected to be included in new head coach Eddie Jones' squad when the Australian announces his first side for the Six Nations Championship later this month.
Itoje fended off competition from Wasps back Elliot Daly, Saracens flyhalf Owen Farrell and Exeter forward Thomas Waldrom to scoop up the award.
Saracens are unbeaten in both the Premiership and the European Rugby Champions Cup this season and Itoje's performances for his club drew praise from BT Sport analyst and former England back Austin Healey.
"It is not just his temperament that makes Maro Itoje stand out as a definite England second row of the future -- he possesses great physical attributes and more importantly amazing technique," Healey said in a statement announcing the award.
"He will play for England, the big question is will he be Eddie Jones' captain?" (Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien)