The players have voted behind closed doors, and we're pleased to announce the five finalists to win the Australian Men's Rugby Sevens team's most prestigious honour, the 2018 Players' Player of the Year.
The 2017-18 season saw the Australian Men's Rugby Sevens team unearth some fresh-faced talent as well as farewelling some highly experienced players, in particular Ed Jenkins, Tom Lucas and James Stannard.
The highlight of the season was undoubtedly winning the Sydney Sevens tournament for the first time, with an inspired performance against the world champion Blitzbokke in the final, while other highlights included pipping hosts New Zealand for bronze in Hamilton and making the final in Singapore, going down in a nail biter to Fiji. The men finished 4th on the World Series, 5th at the Commonwealth Games after a heartbreaking defeat to England in the group stages ruled them out of the Cup Semi Finals, and went down to Ireland in the Challenge Trophy at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco.
Nominated for the second season in a row, after making his World Series debut in 2016-17, Anderson backed up from playing in seven tournaments last year to feature in nine, plus the Commonwealth Games and World Cup, this time around.
He scored 20 tries for the season, with his consistency and versatility again coming the fore. At just 21, he has cemented his place as one of the squad's key players.
Maurice Longbottom's first season playing Rugby Sevens was one to remember, with the pocket rocket lighting up the World Series and quickly becoming a household name.
He played in 7 of the 10 World Series tournaments as well as the Commonwealth Games and World Cup, scoring a try in every tournament he played in to tally 22 for the year. 23-year-old 'Moz' has signed a contract extension until 2020, with one eye on the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Ben O'Donnell had to patient, spending an entire season with the squad without getting a chance to make his debut in 2016-17, but was like a dog off a leash this year as he starred on the World Series for Australia.
Named in the Tournament Dream Team in both Sydney and Singapore, as well as the overall World Series Tournament Dream Team, 'BOD' scored a whopping 190 points in 2017-18.
Porch is a finalist for this Award for the first time, with his third season in the Australian Men's program arguably his finest to date.
Named in the Tournament Dream Team in both Vancouver and Singapore, 'Porchy' scored a career-best 230 points (including 35 tries) across 8 World Series tournaments, the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup, scoring in every tournament he played in. An absolute jet.
2017 Men's Rugby Sevens Players' Player of the Year James Stannard saw injury draw a close to his season and career in 2018, however he typically still managed to have a huge impact in the six tournaments he did play on the World Series and was voted by his peers as a finalist as a result.
Now an Assistant Coach with the Australian Women's Rugby Sevens team, 'Chucky' scored 197 points in 2017-18 to finish his career with 1239 points - an Australian record. A genuine legend of Australian Rugby, and a star on the field until it was cruelly taken away from him.
The Australian Men’s Rugby Sevens Players’ Player award is one of eight major awards presented at the Volvo-RUPA Awards Luncheon on Wednesday December 12. Stay tuned for announcements regarding the finalists in other award categories over the coming days and weeks.