Saints fly-half Grayson grabs big Premiership Rugby Cup prize

James Grayson has scooped the breakthrough player prize (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
James Grayson has scooped the breakthrough player prize (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Saints fly-half James Grayson has won this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup breakthrough player award following a public vote.

Launched in 2012, the breakthrough player award celebrates and recognises under-23 players who have stood out in the tournament.

Previous winners including the likes of Exeter star Jack Nowell, Leicester wing Jonny May and Saints ace Tom Collins.

Using OPTA match statistics, a forward and back from each round were shortlisted, with a further two wildcards added for their performances across the whole competition, forming a 10-man vote.

And Grayson, who has starred as Saints reached next month’s final, was shortlisted following his performance in the 51-24 victory over Bristol Bears in October.

At Franklin’s Gardens that afternoon Grayson played exactly an hour and made his presence known during his spell on the pitch.

No player in round one scored as many points as the Saints No.10, who kicked six goals and crossed for a try for a 19-point haul.

In fact, the 20-year-old was one of just four players to both score and assist a try in the opening round of the Premiership Rugby Cup.

He was also strong in defence with only one back making more tackles than him, while Grayson was the only back to attempt more than eight tackles without missing at least one.

That opening performance saw Grayson earn his place on the 10-strong shortlist, but he didn’t stop there, kicking a further five points in round two, including a match-winning conversion in Saints’ 15-14 triumph at Wasps.

He was restricted to just one conversion in a 14-12 loss at Gloucester Rugby in round three, but Grayson came alive in Saints' ‘Derby Day’ victory over local rivals Leicester Tigers, kicking six conversions and scoring an early try in a 47-20 win.

And his boot came to the fore again in a topsy-turvy semi-final victory over Newcastle Falcons as Grayson kicked seven conversions to see Saints set up a final against Saracens with a 59-33 success.

In winning the public vote, Grayson receives a Promaster Tough watch courtesy of Premiership Rugby partner Citizen, while Gilbert, Official Ball and Rugby Clothing Partner of Premiership Rugby, will supply £1,000 worth of kit to a grassroots club of his choice.

Worcester Warriors’ Ted Hill finished second in the voting, while Tom Willis of Wasps was third.

The full shortlist was...

Josh Bayliss – Bath Rugby

James Grayson – Saints

Ted Hill – Worcester Warriors

Arron Reed – Sale Sharks

Tom Willis - Wasps

Tom Whiteley – Saracens

Joel Kpoku – Saracens

Gabriel Ibitoye – Harlequins

Josh Caulfield – Exeter Chiefs

Matt Gallagher – Saracens