Wade admits to 'shock' as he becomes first man to win two top awards since England great Wilkinson
Christian Wade has described himself as ‘shocked’ to be following in the footsteps of Jonny Wilkinson.
The Wasps flyer has been named as players’ player-of-the-year at the annual awards of the Rugby Players’ Association which looks after England’s top players.
Wade was also named young player of the year and becomes the first player to win both awards since Wilkinson.
But England’s World Cup winner won his awards in 1999 and 2003 thus Wade is the first to win both in the same season.
The 22-year-old, who finished the season as joint top try scorer in the Aviva Premiership alongside Wasps colleague Tom Varnell, won the awards for his brilliant finishing.
‘It just shows the hard work is paying off,’ he said about the Computacenter-sponsored awards held at Battersea Evolution.
Wade did not realise that he was following in the footsteps of Wilkinson. ‘I’m shocked,’ he said. ‘I’m surprised and pretty humble as well. But to have the respect of your peers is also a very good feeling to have.’
Wade paid tribute to the work of Wasps coaches Dai Young and Shane Howarth in helping his development this season.
He is set to play for England on Sunday in the annual non-cap match against the Barbarians at Twickenham. He scored a try in the contest last season – which England won 57-26 – and went on the summer tour of South Africa but only appeared in midweek games.
Next week he heads out on England’s two-match Test tour of Argentina and is expected to make his full international debut following the decision to rest Chris Ashton, the regular right wing.
Wade believes it is time for him to ‘step up.’ He added: ‘There is a lot of pressure on to do the job in going out there.
‘To get the opportunity in Argentina you need to take it with both hands because it may not come round again. There a lot of young players in the squad who are all pushing for places.’ Wade said he had learned a lot from England’s summer tour of South Africa last summer, especially how the experienced internationals prepared for games.
‘They pay more attention to detail compared to your clubs and you are also playing against tougher opposition. You have to learn quickly and be up to the mark.’
England are set to field an inexperienced team against the Barbarians including Gloucester’s Freddie Burns at fly half. Burns takes over from Saracens’ Owen Farrell, who is on the Lions tour, and Toby Flood, the Leicester fly half, who has been rested.
Other uncapped players pushing for a chance at Twickenham are Matt Kvesic, the Worcester flanker, and Sale prop Henry Thomas.