Wasps back-rower lifts prestigious Aviva Premiership monthly award

Date: 7 Mar 2018

Jack Willis has been named Aviva Premiership player-of-the-month for February.

He fought off stiff competition from teammate Thomas Young, Worcester Warriors’ Ryan Mills and Leicester Tigers’ fly half Matt Toomua.

The 21-year-old Wasps flanker was chosen by a panel of rugby media professionals upon whose behalf Will Greenwood explained the choice.

“Wasps back row as a collective has been epic - but the headline act is the kid Jack Willis at six,” the World Cup winner said. 

“Jack had perhaps the finest individual performance of the season in the league away at Harlequins. He helped himself to Harlequins’ ball all afternoon, no matter what juggernauts were looking to excavate him from the ruck. Tall man gets low and doesn't move.

“Dai Young knows he has found an absolute gem. It has been the February of the Breakdown Battler at club and international level, and Jack Willis will be back for more.”

Willis was delighted to claim the prize which he said was totally unexpected.

“I didn’t see this coming at all to be honest,” he said.

“I am very happy to receive the reward, it is a massive honour an d I’m very proud.

“I’ve beaten off some stiff competition, including Thomas Young who has been fantastic all season.

“It was a good month for us as a team, we started off against Leicester with some of the younger guys in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

“Getting a great win there built the confidence for the really tough games back in the Premiership and we got what we wanted out of that block of fixtures.” 

 The former England under 20 back-rower is the first member of Dai Young’s squad to lift the monthly Aviva award this season.

Christian Wade and Jimmy Gopperth claimed the trophy en route to the Premiership final last year, while George Smith, Nathan Hughes, Elliot Daly and Joe Simpson’s names are also on the roll of honour for their contributions to previous Wasps campaigns.

Willis wins a trophy and a £250 donation to the charity of his choice.

Panel: Nick Mullins (BT Sport), Alastair Eykyn (BT Sport), Mick Cleary (The Daily Telegraph), Sarah Mockford (Rugby World), Jonny Fordham (The Sun), Jill Douglas (ITV Sport), Chris Jones (BBC 5 Live), David Rogers (Getty Images) and Tom Hamilton (ESPN). The panel was chaired by Paul Morgan, Premiership Rugby's Communications Director.