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Launchbury and Wade shortlisted for top award

Joe Launchbury and Christian Wade have been shortlisted for the prestigious Land Rover Discovery of the Season award, an accolade give to the best young players in English rugby.

The winner, who receives a Land Rover Discovery 4 for a year, will be announced on 8 May at the annual Aviva Premiership Awards.

Wasps are the only Club with two players recognised on the short-list, with Launchbury and Wade joined by Owen Farrell, Jonathan Joseph, Matt Kvesic and Luke Wallace.

Both young Wasps stars have had break-through seasons having made their debuts in the same game in 2011 against Harlequins.

Launchbury has made 24 appearances for Wasps since then and has been a stand-out player in both the back and second row. He was rewarded for his efforts with a call-up to train with England during the recent Six Nations campaign, having impressed national coaches despite missing a chunk of the season with injury.

Wade has made 20 appearances for Wasps this season and his try-scoring exploits out wide have been a huge feature this season.

The shortlist was chosen by a panel comprising of Land Rover ambassador and Rugby World Cup winner, Josh Lewsey, Sam Peters from the Mail on Sunday, Alastair Eykyn from 5 Live, Alex Lowe from the Press Association and Corin Palmer (Premiership Rugby’s Head of Academies and Development). They were joined by Paul Morgan (Premiership Rugby’s Communications Director) who chaired the panel.

“The Academies at the Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs are clearly doing a great job as this current crop of young players are very impressive,” said Lewsey.

“There is real quality coming through the Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs when we’ve had several years of England underachieving. Now you can see an England squad with players who are genuinely enjoying being part of the set-up which obviously bodes well.

“England’s new head coach Stuart Lancaster has instilled the correct culture for which they know that if they perform both on and importantly off the field, they will get their chance . All six of these young men epitomise that value set.

“The shortlist gives us a huge range of players from gun dogs like Matt Kvesic, nuggety players like Luke Wallace and the obvious mental fortitude of a guy like Owen Farrell. London Irish’s Jonathan Joseph has also impressed me and of course – although it wasn’t all my choice – I was delighted to see two players from London Wasps make the shortlist, after performing as they have, in adversity.”

To be eligible for the award players have to be 21 or younger on the day of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final, on 26 May, and have played seven or more Aviva Premiership Rugby matches in the 2011-12 season.

Land Rover Discovery of the Season 2011-12 Shortlist:
Luke Wallace (Harlequins)
Christian Wade (London Wasps)
Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors)
Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)