All Blacks prop Karl Tu’inukuafe will officially graduate from the international newcomers’ class of 2018 as one of the world’s best.
The 2018 All Black prop, who shot to fame after a shock call-up as injury cover for the All Blacks during the June international season, has been named one of three World Rugby nominations – and the only forward – for the Breakout Player of Year. The other nominees are South Africa winger Aphiwe Dyantyi and Ireland winger Jordan Larmour.
Called into the Chiefs Investec Super Rugby team in a development capacity in late 2017, injuries to incumbents saw Tu’inukuafe fast-tracked as a regular match-day selection. His massive scrummaging power helped his team to regularly outmuscle other packs in the competition, catching the attention of All Blacks’ scrum coach genius Mike Cron.
The former Auckland bouncer hasn’t looked back and in his first year has already amassed nine Test caps including four starts for the All Blacks.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew congratulated Tu’inukuafe who joins other New Zealanders already named in nominations.
“Karl now joins Black Ferns Sevens players – Sarah Goss, Portia Woodman and Michaela Blyde – who have all been nominated for the Women’s Sevens Player of the Year award. There is a lot of fantastic rugby talent around the world at the moment, so it’s a real testament to their hard work, when our athletes rise to the top of that pool,” Tew said.
“Karl can be incredibly proud of his nomination which is a celebration of the kind of mental and physical strength that modern rugby forwards must have to compete at the top level. The fact that Karl is the only forward named in nominations for this category demonstrates he is special, and much as he tends to shy away from the attention, he deserves this recognition,” Tew said.
To be eligible for the Breakout Player award, players must have played less than one year of senior international rugby, with former internationals Jamie Heaslip, Felipe Contepomi and Phaidra Knight sitting alongside members of the media on the panel to select the shortlist.
The winner will be revealed at the World Rugby Awards, to be held at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo on 25 November.
Previous winners of this award include 2017 winner All Blacks team mate and winger Rieko Ioane, and RWC 2015 winning winger, Nehe Milner-Skudder.