England pair Maro Itoje and Ben Youngs have been nominated for the 2020 Six
Nations Player of the Championship award, but French players make up half of the six-strong shortlist.
Itoje has been magnificent all tournament and, as a destructive force at the breakdown and explosive in defence, he played a key role in his side winning a third title under Eddie Jones.
Youngs won his 100th cap in Saturday’s victory over Italy that seized the crown from Wales, celebrating the occasion with two tries to end a competition in which he has been highly consistent.
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Despite England’s success, it was France who captured imaginations and they are represented by their dazzling half-backs Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack and imperious No 8 Gregory Alldritt.
Completing the list is Ireland back row CJ Stander, with all six looking to succeed Alun Wyn Jones as reigning Player of the Six Nations.
Voting is done by supporters on the championship’s official website with the winner will be announced on Friday.
Alun Wyn Jones: Wales must improve after Scotland loss
Alun Wyn Jones says Wales have “got to get better” after they slumped to a four-year results low and their worst Six Nations campaign since 2007.
Wales’ lame 14-10 home defeat against Scotland in Llanelli made it five successive defeats under head coach Wayne Pivac, who can reflect on just two victories – over the Barbarians and Italy – since he succeeded Warren Gatland a year ago.
And it is in stark contrast to last season’s Grand Slam-winning Six Nations campaign, with a fifth-placed finish and just one victory leaving Wales facing plenty of questions before an Autumn Nations Cup schedule that features appointments with Ireland and England.
Asked about the run of losses, Wales captain Jones said: “It’s got to get better, hasn’t it, first and foremost. We are quite candid on that, as Wayne has been as well.
“We go into the Nations Cup with a fresh start. I am pretty sure there will be changes and Wayne will continue giving people opportunities, so it’s wide open in that regard.
“It’s interesting to see how we go and who gets opportunities, but ultimately we definitely need improvement.”
Eddie Jones: We must be ‘gracious’ to be playing during lockdown
England head coach Eddie Jones says they must be “gracious of the opportunity” to carry on playing international rugby as the latest lockdown measures limit movement for most people.
Coronavirus protocols meant England captain Owen Farrell presented his England team-mates with their winners medals on Sunday morning as celebrations continued after they sealed their third Six Nations title in five years under the Australian with victory over Italy.
Jones is already looking ahead to England’s next challenge, however, with their Autumn Nations Cup campaign kicking off with a game against Georgia at Twickenham on November 14, with matches against Ireland and Wales to follow on the next two Saturdays.
As well as the challenges they will face on the pitch, Jones also acknowledged they must retain their focus off it by adhering to COVID-19 rules within their bubble, especially given the circumstances surrounding their cancelled match against the Barbarians last weekend.
Jones said: “All of our players and staff are aware of their responsibilities. Next week we are giving the guys a bit of a break and then we come in for the Georgia preparation.
“We’ve got to be cognitive of the fact that everyone’s looking at what we’re doing.
“We’ve got to be so gracious of the opportunity we’ve got. We’re so lucky to be able to play international rugby when countries are in lockdown around Europe.
“We understand that responsibility and we want to make sure again that we try to put smiles on people’s faces.
“We’ve just had the trophy presentation, there were 40 or 50 people there, they had big smiles on their faces and hopefully we can do a bit more of that.”
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