Wasps flanker Willis named RPA player of the year

(Reuters) - Wasps flanker Jack Willis was voted Players’ Player of the Year by the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) on Wednesday after he led the team to their first English Premiership final in three years.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Premiership Semi Final - Wasps v Bristol Bears - Ricoh Arena, Coventry, Britain - October 10, 2020 Wasps' Jack Willis in action with Bristol Bears' Joe Joyce Action Images/Andrew Boyers

The influential back-rower topped the Premiership charts with 44 turnovers, 25 more than any other player in the competition this season.

Willis was named man of the match on Saturday when a resurgent Wasps side thumped Bristol Bears 47-24 in the semi-final.

The 23-year-old’s string of standout displays in recent weeks has improved his chances of earning a call-up to Eddie Jones’ England squad for the climax to the Six Nations against Italy and Autumn Nations Cup.

“It’s an incredible honour to win this award and for it to be voted by all the players and teams that I’ve played against, and my peers, makes it even more special,” Willis said.

“It is something that I am extremely proud of and something later in life, post career, that will bring me enormous pride and be a highlight of my career.

“If Wasps can achieve what we want to achieve this season, hopefully I can sit back in off-season and take a couple of weeks to enjoy everything that has happened.”

Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit was named the Young Player of the Year following his breakthrough Premiership season, which earned him a Wales call up in January.

The 19-year-old finished the season with an impressive haul of 10 tries, signing a new long-term deal with Gloucester in the process.

“It’s been a bit of a shock to play in the premiership and then all of a sudden to win this is amazing,” said Rees-Zammit.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis