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By Super Rugby AUS Media Team
After 16 rounds of FxPro Super Rugby the race to be crowned Player of the Year has come down to the final two rounds and five potential winners.
In a bizarre twist four of the top seven players vying for the award have been ruled out of this weekend’s matches through injury, while three of those four will have no chance to poll any more votes this year after being ruled out for the rest of the season.
University of Canberra Brumbies playmaker, Christian Lealiifano and Emirate Western Force captain, David Pocock both lead the competition on 17 points.
With both players taking no further part this season neither will have the chance to add to their points tally, meaning their hopes of being named Player of the Year lie solely with the other four players still in the hunt.
Lealiifano has sat atop the voting since round 11 after he polled a maximum three votes before suffering a badly broken ankle in the final seconds of the Brumbies match against the Waratahs.
Pocock also polled maximum votes that round however took another two man-of-the-match performances in round 12 against the Sharks and 14 against the Lions to catch up with the Brumbies play maker.
St.George Queensland Reds forward, Scott Higginbotham is tied in second spot on 15 points with team mate, Will Genia and injured RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels playmaker Kurtley Beale.
Beale will finish the year on 15 Player of the Year Votes after he succumb to a rib injury that will see him watching the Rebels final two games from the sideline.
Higginbotham and Genia however will have the chance to add to their tally this weekend when they step out at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night to take on the Highlanders.
Genia, last year’s Super Rugby Player of the Year, has been in stellar form of late and has every chance of polling at least three points in the remaining two Red’s games to potentially go back-to-back.
Higginbotham will also be backing himself to poll well in the Red’s final two games after the forward jumped out to an early lead in the voting, only to be pulled back by Lealiifano before he was struck down with injury.
The two Red’s players are in poll position to take out the title considering they are just 3 votes away from overtaking Pocock and Lealiifano and have two games left in the season.
Red’s flanker Liam Gill sits just four points off top spot on 13 points, however won’t have the chance to poll any points this weekend after he was ruled out through injury.
Gills injury means the highest he can finish in polling, if he was to return next weekend, would be second but only if his team mates Genia and Higginbotham don’t poll any more votes and he sucures a maximum three votes in the final round.
The only other player who has a chance of taking out the coveted award is HSBC Waratahs Number 8, Wycliff Palu who currently sits fourth on 12 points.
The imposing forward will need to poll maximum votes in the Waratah’s final two games and hope those above him poll nothing if he is a chance of being named the FxPro Super Rugby Player of the Year.
The scenario isn’t completely out of the question considering Palu has polled the maximum three votes in four games this year for his 12 points in total and could well finish off the season on a high.
Voting in the FxPro Super Rugby Player of the Year Awards will go under lock and key from this weekend with the final result being announced at the FxPro Super Rugby Awards ceremony on Thursday 26 July.
Below is the Top 20 as they currently stand with two rounds remaining