After his brother’s win last year, Joe Simmonds knows the pressure is on to keep the Land Rover Discovery of the Season award in the family.
The 22-year-old fly-half has been named on a six-man shortlist for the 2018-19 award – won by his older brother Sam 12 months ago.
Simmonds junior has been a key cog for an Exeter Chiefs side which stands one win against Northampton Saints away from securing top spot in the Gallagher Premiership Rugby table.
And with Sam out injured this campaign, Joe is desperate to keep their sibling rivalry on an even keel.
“It is quite nice for me to be recognised. This is not just people from my club, but people outside who have chosen me,” he said.
“Obviously my brother won it last year so it would be nice to get the win as well but there are such good players up for it.
“I am just pleased to be on the shortlist and be involved in it.
“I see his award every morning when I walk past! To be fair to him, he deserved it last season. He played really well.
“He hasn’t even congratulated me or anything yet so I will give him a bit of stick for that. But he is obviously rooting for me.
“I wasn’t sure I would be up for it this year because there have been so many players that have come through this year and done really well.”
The other five men on the shortlist are Sale and England flanker Tom Curry, Bath and England wing Joe Cokanasiga, Quins back row Alex Dombrandt, Northampton centre Rory Hutchinson and Gloucester wing Ollie Thorley.
And Simmonds – who broke through last season in guiding his side to the Premiership final at Twickenham – thinks Curry probably deserves the award if wasn’t voting for himself.
“Tom Curry, just watching him play for England has been impressive. The way he has stepped up to that level has been amazing,” added Simmonds.
“He has done well for Sale as well, and is still only 20. So for me he is probably the favourite.
“But also you have to look at Ollie Thorley. I roomed with Ollie for the England U20s and we are quite close and he has come through very nicely so should be right up there.
“It will be interesting to see what happens but they have all played so well.”
Simmonds has had to mix and match between fly-half and full-back for game time this year, as veteran Gareth Steenson has fought back in the battle for the No.10 jersey.
But that has helped Simmonds improve – according to the man himself.
“I think coming off the back of last season, I wanted to nail down the starting position and I didn’t quite get it,” he added.
“Gareth was playing well and I had to work hard. But that has actually been quite nice for me.
“I have noticed that I have to train and play as well as I can week in and week out to get the shirt.
“When I have played I really enjoyed it, and I feel quite confident in what I have done.
“It brings the best out of both of us.
“At college I played in the centres a bit, I wouldn’t say I had done much at full-back. But I don’t really mind where I play, as long as I get in the team.
“I prefer ten, but I will do it at 15, and it has helped me. I don’t want to be just a passing ten, I want to be a threat.
“And at full-back I have had that space to carry and threaten and so when I go back in to ten it is easier for me to see that space and use my footwork and pace to get past people.
“I have enjoyed it and hopefully it is now another string to my bow.”
Joe Simmonds has been shortlisted for the 2018/19 Land Rover Discovery of the Season award. Land Rover is the official vehicle partner of Premiership Rugby. Follow @LandRoverRugby