Rugby World Cup 2015: Mark Bennett in running for world award

Scotland centre Mark Bennett
Mark Bennett missed part of the year through injury

Glasgow Warriors and Scotland centre Mark Bennett is in the running to be named World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year.

Bennett, 22, has been nominated along with 24-year-old New Zealand back Nehe Milner-Skudder and 19-year-old Georgia scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze.

Despite his three World Cup tries, the Scot was surprised to be chosen.

"I haven't played much rugby this season and the international stage has been a big step-up," he said.

"But I've loved every second of it and I was absolutely over the moon when I realised I was up for the award."

Award judges, including 139-times Australia cap George Gregan and former Argentina centre Felipe Contepomi, were looking for "a player who has burst on to the rugby scene showing tremendous skill throughout the year and has played no more than one year of international rugby".

New Zealand's Nehe Milner-Skudder in action against Namibia
Nehe Milner-Skudder has scored five tries for New Zealand at the Rugby World Cup

The award winner will be announced at the World Rugby Awards dinner in London on Sunday.

Milner-Skudder, who plays at full-back and on the wing for Super Rugby side Hurricanes, scored two tries in his All Blacks debut against Australia in August, has gone on to win seven caps and is the equal second top try scorer at the current World Cup with five touchdowns.

Lobzhanidze, who plays for Armazi Tbilisi and has 10 caps, became the youngest player ever to appear in a World Cup match when he played in Georgia's opening game against Tonga.

Bennett made the first of his 13 international appearances in last year's 41-31 autumn Test win over Argentina at Murrayfield.

He wore the number 13 shirt in all five of Scotland's Six Nations games this season and touched down against both Italy and England.

However, Bennett picked a shoulder injury during the tournament only to return to fitness in time to open his World Cup with two tries in the 45-10 victory over Japan.

Georgia's Vasil Lobzhanidze in action against New Zealand
Vasil Lobzhanidze is the youngest player ever to play in the World Cup finals

His third score came in the narrow 35-34 quarter-final defeat by Australia.

"It's surreal that, as a child, I sat and watched the Rugby World Cup and now I'm one of the guys kids watch," added Bennett.

"We felt that we did so well as a team and were unfortunate not to progress further in the competition.

"The support was unreal. There was a great Scottish contingent at every match throughout. And, especially at the final game against Australia, it felt like the whole of Twickenham was behind us."

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