Racing 92’s Leone Nakarawa has been rewarded for an outstanding European campaign by being named EPCR European Player of the Year 2018 – presented by Turkish Airlines.

The Fijian helped Racing 92 to the Champions Cup final in which they were narrowly defeated by Leinster Rugby in front of a near-capacity crowd at Bilbao’s San Mamés Stadium.

The outcome was determined by a combination of a public vote and the verdict of a panel of renowned rugby experts. There was a new record established for fans’ engagement with over 21,000 votes registered since the initial list of nominees was named at the end of January.

Nakarawa edged out club colleague Maxime Machenaud for one of the most prized individual accolades in the world game, while Leinster’s trio of Scott Fardy, Tadhg Furlong and Johnny Sexton also made the shortlist for the award.

His success is the first for a player representing a TOP 14 club since 2015 when Nick Abendanon of ASM Clermont Auvergne won. Nakarawa collects one million air miles courtesy of official tournament partners Turkish Airlines as well as a specially-struck commemorative medal. He also becomes the second recipient of the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy.

His performances in the Champions Cup received widespread acclaim throughout the season with his try in Racing’s quarter-final win at Clermont voted as the best of the knockout rounds on ChampionsCupRugby.com.

2017/18 panel:

Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports/The Sunday Times), Chris Jones (BBC Radio 5 Live), Matthieu Lartot (France Televisions), Emmanuel Massicard (Midi Olympique), Brian O’Driscoll (BT Sport), Dimitri Yachvili (beIN SPORTS).

Roll of Honour

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)