Rugby: Black Ferns captain Ruahei Demant nominated for World Rugby Women's Player of Year

Black Ferns captain Ruahei Demant stands on the verge of becoming the first two-time winner of World Rugby's Women's 15s Player of the Year. 

The outstanding first-five is one of four finalists for the award, which she won last year, after leading New Zealand to victory at the World Cup on home soil.

Demant, 28, faces competition from England captain Marle Packer and winger Abby Dow - whom the Black Ferns face in the WXV 1 finale on Saturday - and France centre Gabrielle Vernier, named outstanding player of this year's Six Nations.

Ruahei Demant in action for the Black Ferns.
Ruahei Demant in action for the Black Ferns. Photo credit: Photosport

Meanwhile, rookie wingers Katelyn Vahaakolo and Mererangi Paul are among the finalists for Women's 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year, up against Scot Francesca McGhie, who helped her team to WXV 2 victory, and French first-five Carla Arbez.

NZ sevens star Ruby Tui won this award in 2022, after crossing over to the larger format for the World Cup.  

Paul is also in the running for Women's Try of the Year, scored in a 52-21 win over Canada in July.

"The past year has seen some momentous steps forward for the women’s game with more full-time contracts, record-breaking crowds, the announcement of the first-ever dedicated international release window and, of course, the inaugural WXV competition, which has seen the very best women’s teams competing across three levels and in three regions around the globe," said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

"A huge congratulations and thank you to all those nominated, who are not only inspiring fans and players on the field, with their tenacious performances and infectious spirit, but outside of the game, with the incredible work they carry out in their communities." 

The women's winners will be named after the NZ v England WXV match at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart on Saturday.

Last weekend, Tyla Nathan-Wong was named Women's Sevens Player of the Year, two days after helping the Kiwi Ferns to rugby league victory over world champions Australia.

Join Newshub at 7pm Saturday for live updates of the Black Fern v England WXV match