All Blacks wing Will Jordan is being backed to claim World Rugby's breakthrough player of the year award to deny Wales flyer Louis Rees-Zammit the crown.
Four candidates have been nominated for the prestigious trophy, with Jordan and Rees-Zammit facing competition from England's new fly-half Marcus Smith and Australia wing Andrew Kellaway.
Wales and Gloucester wing Rees-Zammit made his senior international debut in the autumn of 2020 before winning the 2021 Six Nations title a few months later when he scored four tries, including the official touchdown of the championship against Scotland. He then headed off to South Africa on the British and Irish Lions tour over the summer, their youngest player in 50 years. He has scored a total of five tries in 10 Tests in 2020/21.
But All Blacks back-three star Jordan, who has touched down 15 times in 11 Tests in just his second year of international rugby, has been dubbed the "clear winner" by former All Blacks hooker James Parsons.
"Rees-Zammit and Kellaway are extremely talented young men and have both had a massive year in terms of their career compared to where they were at the start to where they are now and well-respected they are internationally," Parsons told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.
"But I just can’t go past Will Jordan. Some of the things he’s pulled off this year are just freakish. He is seriously talented and I think a clear winner for me.
"Even the ones he didn’t score, his assists and his work off-the-ball, he should win that one, I’m certain of. He’s pushed hard by Kellaway probably the most, in terms of breakout [ability]."
It's an opinion echoed by Jordan’s Crusaders teammate Bryn Hall, who, RugbyPass reports, has highlighted his ability to open up a defence as another key point of difference to add weight to his case.
"He’s grown up really fast, I think this year he’s taken it to another level," Hall told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.
"His influence in games and big moments, whether it be a chip-and-chase against the Welsh team or off a counter-attack, getting through the middle and breaking through, and even his work rate off-the-ball as well, he’s world class.
"And, also defensively, he’s made massive improvement in that department, which is one thing he probably wanted to work on.
"I look at Kellaway, he’s had an outstanding year, someone that’s been earmarked for a while in that environment over there, but you just can’t go past Will Jordan.
"The tries he’s had, the ways that he’s scored them, the way he’s influenced games, I think it’s Will Jordan for sure."
There will be plenty who will have something to say about that in Wales, where Rees-Zammit has made such an instant impression.
The foursome are bidding to claim an accolade whose previous winners include Maro Itoje in 2016 and Romain Ntamack in 2019.