Leicester Tigers fly-half George Ford may have made only one complete appearance in the Heineken Champions Cup so far this season, but he produced such an outstanding display that it earned him a place among the 2022 EPCR European Player of the Year nominees.
Not only did the England international contribute 11 points to Leicester’s crucial 16-13 Pool B success at Union Bordeaux-Bègles in Round 1, but he also kicked the match-winning penalty in the 77th minute.
The 28-year-old, who now has 421 points from 47 European appearances, converted Leicester’s only try at Stade Chaban-Delmas and added penalties in the 16th and 68th minutes, as well as that nerveless winner three minutes from time.
That victory put Leicester on the road to top spot in Pool B and a last-16 meeting with ASM Clermont Auvergne, as they went on to beat Connacht Rugby 29-23 at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in Round 2 and 29-28 at The Sportsground in Round 3, before being awarded the return against Bordeaux.
🐯 @FreddieBurns has been 🔥🔥🔥 recently…
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) February 17, 2022
The winner of the award, which is in its 12th season, will receive the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy in memory of the former Munster Rugby head coach and captain.
Voting is now open HERE and fans will be in the running to win a signed ball and a signed jersey courtesy of one of the Heineken Champions Cup final clubs.
The list will be reduced to five players in May, following the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup semi-finals, by a combination of the public vote and the verdict of the judging panel, and players who have not been included in the initial longlist, but who make a significant impact during the knockout stages, may be considered for the shortlist.
The voting will then re-open and the winner of the 2022 award will be announced following the Heineken Champions Cup final in Marseille on Saturday, 28 May.
EPCR European Player of the Year 2022 nominees:
Grégory ALLDRITT (Stade Rochelais)
Alex DOMBRANDT (Harlequins)
Caelan DORIS (Leinster Rugby)
Antoine DUPONT (Stade Toulousain)
Gaël FICKOU (Racing 92)
George FORD (Leicester Tigers)
Michael LOWRY (Ulster Rugby)
Jimmy O’BRIEN (Leinster Rugby)
Jack O’DONOGHUE (Munster Rugby)
Damian PENAUD (ASM Clermont Auvergne)
Semi RADRADRA (Bristol Bears)
Sam SIMMONDS (Exeter Chiefs)
Marcus SMITH (Harlequins)
Josh VAN DER FLIER (Leinster Rugby)
Cameron WOKI (Union Bordeaux-Bègles)
Judging Panel – Erik Bonneval (beIN SPORTS), Bryan Habana (two-time Heineken Champions Cup winner), Lee McKenzie (Channel 4), Alan Quinlan (Virgin Media), Dimitri Yachvili (France Télévisions)
Roll of Honour – 2021: Antoine Dupont (Stade Toulousain); 2020: Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs); 2019: Alex Goode (Saracens); 2018: Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92); 2017: Owen Farrell (Saracens); 2016: Maro Itoje (Saracens); 2015: Nick Abendanon (ASM Clermont Auvergne); 2014: Steffon Armitage (RC Toulon); 2013: Jonny Wilkinson (RC Toulon); 2012: Rob Kearney (Leinster Rugby); 2011: Sean O’Brien (Leinster Rugby); 2010: Ronan O’Gara (Munster Rugby – best player of first 15 years of European professional club competitions)