Wasps wing Christian Wade 'shocked and humbled' to win Players' Player and Young Player of the Year awards
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Christian Wade was “shocked and humbled” to learn he had gone one better than Jonny Wilkinson by scooping a unique double at the Rugby Players' Association awards.
The 22-year-old Wasps wing was named both the Computacenter Players' Player of the Year and the LV= Young Player of the Year in recognition of a spectacular season.
Wade scored 18 tries in 26 appearances and he finished level with Wasps team-mate Tom Varndell as the Aviva Premiership's joint leading try-scorer with 12.
Wilkinson is the only other player to have won both RPA awards - but he did so in different years, receiving the young player trophy in 1999 and the main award in 2003.
“I didn't know that. I am really shocked and humbled,” Wade said.
“When it is the players who you play week-in, week-out it makes it that more special. It is the greatest feeling to have the respect of your peers.
”Looking at the quality of the nominees in both awards I didn't expect to win and I am thankful to come out on top.“
Wade won the Players' Player Of The Year award ahead of the Leicester flanker Julian Salvi with Saracens and England prop Mako Vunipola in third.
Vunipola finished runner-up in the Young Player Of The Year award with his brother, the Saracens-bound Wasps number eight Billy, in third.
Wasps were strongly represented with lock Joe Launchbury named the Monitise England Player of the Year for 2012-2013.
Launchbury made his international breakthrough this season and that is the next challenge for Wade, who is set to feature against the Barbarians on Sunday before heading off on the tour of Uruguay and Argentina.
”I will just look to go out there and give my best if I am selected and use it as a springboard to the Argentina tour,“ said Wade, who has scored 32 tries in his 50 first-team appearances for Wasps.
”When you look at the opportunity to play for England, you don't really get many. You see some players who have seized the opportunity and some who haven't.
“There is a lot of pressure and if I get the opportunity in (the two Test matches against) Argentina I need to take it with both hands because it might not come around again.”
Wade has been joined in the England squad by the likes of Gloucester's Jonny May, Marland Yarde from London Irish and Bath's Kyle Eastmond to bring what head coach Stuart Lancaster described as “an X-Factor” to the back division.
Gloucester and England number eight Ben Morgan said: “We've got a really electrifying back field.
”Christian is lightning fast. The way he plays obviously resembles Jason Robinson. He can make space out of nowhere which is very useful.“
Those X-Factor selections point to a change in emphasis from England, who recognised during the Six Nations that the balance of their back three was too defensive and lacked potency.
Wade, who toured with England to South Africa, did not get a look-in as Lancaster persisted with Chris Ashton and Mike Brown on the wings.
Skills coach Mike Catt admitted England ”desperately“ need to improve on their finishing, which is where the likes of Wade come in.
”You play to your team's strengths. If that means driving teams to death, we drive teams to death but one of our strengths is the speed and X-Factor in those wide channels so we need to go there,“ said Catt.
”Christian Wade has been exceptional all season. This is a good opportunity for him to say: 'I have matured as a player' and put his hand up to be selected for the November Tests.
“Going into the 2015 World Cup we need to have two players in each position who are capable of playing international rugby and this tour is about finding out whether these guys can perform and it is a great opportunity.”
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