Hughes named Aviva Premiership Player of the Month

Wasps' No 8 Nathan Hughes was today acclaimed as a "sensational athlete” as he was named Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month for November.

Hughes was in stunning form through the month of November as Wasps won both their matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby and beat Leinster and Toulon in the European Rugby Champions Cup.

BT Sport analyst Austin Healey, the former England scrum-half believes that Hughes could also be just the boost English rugby needs as it emerges from the Rugby World Cup.

"By the end of November he had carried the ball more than any other player in Aviva Premiership Rugby with 72 and his clean breaks, metres, offloads and turnover numbers read like an NFL running back" said Healey.

"He really is a sensational athlete and deserved winner of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month. As a proud Englishman I can't wait to see him singing God Save The Queen in a white shirt.”

Hughes, who was one of the two runners-up in October, beat an impressive shortlist of Owen Farrell (Saracens), Charles Piutau (Wasps) and Maro Itoje (Saracens) to win the second monthly award of the season.
Rugby fans also had their say on who deserved to win the coveted Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Month Award, as they became the 10th Judge. Joining the panel of nine judges, fans voted for the player that had impressed them the most during the month of November.
As well as securing a sizeable fans' vote, Hughes was voted for by a panel of media professionals – Nick Mullins (BT Sport), Alastair Eykyn (BT Sport), Mick Cleary (The Daily Telegraph), Steve James (The Sunday Telegraph), Sarah Mockford (Rugby World), Jill Douglas (ITV Sport), Chris Jones (BBC 5 Live), David Rogers (Getty Images) and Ben Coles (Planet Rugby). The panel was chaired by Paul Morgan, Premiership Rugby's Communications Director.

On being named Aviva Premiership Player of the Month for November, Wasps’ no 8 Nathan Hughes said:

“First of all I would like to thank Aviva and everyone who voted for me, including the 10th judge - the fans - for this award. Thank you also to all the Wasps’ fans for backing me, not only this month, but since I arrived at the club.

“It is an honour to win the award, especially when there are so many great players in the Aviva Premiership. The amount of players you see at the top of their games, week-in-week-out in the competition, shows how good a league it is.

“While it’s nice to win a personal award, it is all about the team and we all work together as a unit. You just play your individual role within the team and if you stand out, you stand out. I have been lucky enough to take my opportunities when they have been presented, but it all starts up front and the tight five have all played brilliantly, which makes my job in the back row a lot easier.

“I’m loving my rugby at the moment. In fact, I’ve probably never loved my rugby as much as this season.  Getting to play week-in-week-out has been great and is what everyone wants to do.

“I am still learning and I analyse my game every week, so hopefully there is still a lot to come. At the moment, I am trying to improve my defence and trying to continue attacking the way I have been, but I’m loving every second of it.”

As part of his award, Hughes has chosen to give his £250, which Aviva kindly donate to the charity of the winner’s choice, to Tiny Tim’s Children Centre, in Coventry.

Hughes said: “I have chosen this charity because I wanted to help the kids who need it. We are so lucky in what we do and in our lives generally, so it is good to have an opportunity to help those less fortunate than ourselves. I have recently become a father myself and it definitely means a lot more when you have a kid yourself too, because you feel very protective.  Hopefully, when we move up to the area, I can pop in to pay them a visit if they’re okay with that.”

Looking ahead to the massive challenge of back-to-back European games against Premiership Finalists, Bath, Hughes added:

“This weekend, there will be two teams wanting to come out firing as we both lost at home last weekend and so we will want to put that frustration behind us. It will be a massive challenge. Unlike the last time we faced them in the league at the Ricoh Arena, Bath will have all of their international players back from the Rugby World Cup.  We also have quality players back as well, so it’s set to be a huge battle and will come down to who brings it on the day.

“We’ve got to put our heads down this week, learn from what happened against Exeter on Saturday and move on. There is a lot more to come in the Premiership, it is not how you start, it is how you finish and we know we need to be more consistent and never drop off in intensity if we want to finish in the top half of the table.

For now the focus is on performing in Europe. Hopefully we can go well this Sunday at the Ricoh Arena and try to back it up the week after, to put ourselves in a good position for qualification, but we know how tough it will be against a Bath side who went all the way to the Premiership Final last season. All the focus is on performing to the best of our ability this Sunday.”

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