England legend Lewis Moody believes starlet Joe Marchant is really starting to blossom in the Harlequins midfield after he was nominated for the Land Rover Discovery of the Season Award.
The 20-year-old centre joins Sale Sharks flyer Denny Solomona, Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Jack Maunder, Leicester Tiger Ellis Genge and Bath Rugby duo Zach Mercer and Tom Ellis on the shortlist.
The winner is set to be announced on Wednesday at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards, and will rub shoulders with the biggest names in English rugby at a glittering ceremony at the London Lancaster Hotel.
Marchant was part of the England Under-20 side that won the junior World Championship on home soil last summer, before subsequently breaking into senior head coach Eddie Jones’ thinking.
He was named in Jones’ squad for last year’s Autumn Internationals and is also part of England’s ranks for their summer tour to Argentina.
And World Cup winner Moody says Marchant would be a worthy Land Rover Discovery of the Season winner should he pick up the prize this week.
“Sometimes, it takes players quite a while to develop into the professional game,” said Moody. “But he seems to have grown from the knowledge and the time that he’s had with the coaches and the team.
“He’ll have had time around Jamie [Roberts] and Nick Evans – all those senior players pulling the strings and giving him guidance.
“The experience you can gain from others is as valuable as just going out and playing the game, so trying to get the guidance from others before you make mistakes is key to why we’ve seen him develop.
“I remember my time at Leicester – I could have left when they signed Josh Kronfeld and we essentially had two of the best opensides in the world playing at the time.
“I was then third or fourth-choice and thought: ‘what is the point’, but actually, staying and learning off those two guys and seeing how different characters operate, even in the same position, just developed me as an individual.
“The amount of knowledge he’ll be gaining off the likes of Nick and Jamie, and others like Mike Brown at full-back – those experienced players – will be helping him.”
The Land Rover Discovery of the Season award recognises the most impressive young rugby player in Aviva Premiership Rugby. Land Rover is the Official Vehicle Partner of Premiership Rugby and long standing supporter of grassroots rugby.
If Marchant is to scoop the gong, he would join an illustrious list of former winners – current England internationals in Maro Itoje, Henry Slade, Billy Vunipola, Joe Launchbury, and Owen Farrell have won the last five awards.
But despite that impressive success rate, Moody is urging him to stay focussed and kick on once again next season.
He said: “All these guys should feel incredibly proud to have been shortlisted – but young players can never afford to think, after some recognition, that it’s all going to be rosy from here on in.
“They need to remember all the hard work that got them to this place and never lose sight of that. All the former winners are where they are now – playing for England – because of the hard work that they continued to put in.
“Sometimes, when you’re successful and praise is put upon you, you can lose sight of what it takes to play rugby at the highest level.
“So while there are some brilliant individuals on this line-up that are making big waves, I would say there is a huge rugby world open to them if they make the most of it. This nomination is a huge stepping stone from that respect.”
Lewis Moody is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover is Official Vehicle Partner of Premiership Rugby and has a heritage in rugby at all levels; from grassroots to elite.
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