NRC Rising Star nominee round seven - Len Ikitau (Canberra Vikings)

by Iain Payten

Powerful Canberra centre Len Ikitau is the seventh and final nominee for the 2018 NRC Rising Star award.

Ikitau, 20, is in his second season with the Vikings and has emerged as a Super Rugby player-in-waiting in the 2018 competition.

The Junior Wallabies midfielder turned in an influential performance in Canberra's win over Brisbane City in the wet at the weekend, scoring a try and defending stoutly.

The victory secured a semi-final spot for the Vikings, who will travel to Fiji this weekend to take on the Drua.

Ikitau will be a key man at no.13 in their bid to make successive finals.

The Brisbane-raised youngster only left school in 2016 but has made a big impression in Canberra, particularly this year.

In combination with a contender for the NRC's MVP in 2018, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Ikitau has consistently threatened the line and scored some decisive tries.

In a telling sign, he has kept Super Rugby centre Irae Simone on the Vikings bench and is being talked up as a player soon to break into the Brumbies ranks, behind Tevita Kuridrani.

Ikitau snares the final nomination for the NRC Rising Star award, which will now be voted upon by a panel of judges drawn from coaching, media and refereeing ranks.

Players are eligible for the award if they played three Super Rugby games or fewer, or for Fijian Drua players, three games or fewer for the Flying Fijians.

The search for nominees has thrown up a huge number of talented players rising through the ranks of Australian rugby - far more than could be recognised within seven rounds.

The following players are honourable mentions for their outstanding form in 2018: Harry Wilson, Lachie Swinton, Tom Kibble, Levani Kurumundu, Fergus Lee-Warner, Matt Giquel, Efi Ma'aafu, Shambeckler Vui, Tevin Ferris, Jone Navori, Ryan McCauley, Sam Figg and Mahe Vailanu.

NRC Nominees

Round One: Andrew Deegan (Western Force)

Round Two: Alivereti Veitokani (Fijian Drua)

Round Three: Jock Campbell (Queensland Country)

Round Four: Archie King (Melbourne Rising)

Round Five: Darcy Swain (Canberra Vikings)

Round Six: Jack McGregor (Western Force)

Round Seven: Len Ikitau (Canberra Vikings)