Former EPCR European Player of the Year Steffon Armitage has tipped ex-RC Toulon team-mate Josua Tuisova or La Rochelle utility player Levani Botia to win this year’s award presented by Turkish Airlines.

MPU – In article – English

The Pau back-row forward knows exactly what qualities you need to win Europe’s individual honour, having won the trophy in 2014 and been shortlisted for it the following year – and, for him, Tuisova and Botia stand out.

He explained at Pau’s recent media day for the Challenge Cup quarter-finals: “Josua Tuisova is actually a really good friend of mine and without him at the beginning, I don’t think Toulon would be where they are, because he always gets them on the front foot.

“When you need that explosion, just that one break, he’s always there, whether that’s in defence or in attack.

“Obviously, Levani Botia plays the same position as me. I think he’s an animal and what he’s done this season, in the back row or as a centre, I think it’s been amazing.”

Armitage felt his European Rugby Player of the Year award was the result of the fierce rivalry among the back-row forwards in the Toulon squad at the time as they lifted the European Cup for the second year in a row.

“We actually made each other better players and a better team, because there was so much competition,” he said. “Back then we had Chris Masoe, Joe van Niekerk, Juan Lobbe, Danie Rossouw, the names just go on.

“I think I definitely owe it to those guys who made me who I am. I think they made my job a lot easier. People say I’m good at what I do, but in rugby there are 15 guys on the pitch and if those guys do their job around you, it makes it so much easier, and that’s what they did.

“Yes, I stood out because of what they did and that’s why I’ll always thank those guys, because without them who knows what I’d be? I’m just so grateful for them. They taught me a lot.”

Voting for the 2018 award is OPEN NOW on and fans will be in the running to win two VIP tickets to the Challenge Cup and Champions Cup finals in Bilbao in May with one night’s accommodation courtesy of EPCR.

The 15-strong list will be reduced to five players in April following the Champions Cup semi-finals by a combination of the public vote and the verdict of the panel of judges.

The voting will then be reopened and the winner of the 2018 award will be announced after the Champions Cup final in Bilbao on Saturday, 12 May.