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Blues Regional Clubs Coaches In Line for Principality Award

22nd May 2008

Wales Grand Slam Coach Warren Gatland will be recognising the three Premiership club head coaches from the Blues region at the Principality Premiership presentation night at the Millennium Stadium tonight (Wednesday, 22 May).

The Coach of the Year Award is one of five due to be handed out at the fourth annual presentation evening.

The full list of Principality Building Society presentations is as follows:

Services to Rugby
Referee's Fair Play Award
Newcomer of the Year Award
Coach of the Year Award
Player of the Year Award

The nominees for Coach of the year are as follows: RICHARD HODGES of Glamorgan Wanderers, PAUL JOHN of Pontypridd and JUSTIN BURNELL of Cardiff

RICHARD HODGES guided the Wanderers to their first Konica Minolta Cup semi-final this season and 10th in the Premiership. He is the Cardiff Blues Regional Community Manager and has turned the Wanderers into one of the toughest teams to beat in the division.

PAUL JOHN is following in the footsteps of his father, Denis, in turning into one of the most respected coaches around the Welsh club scene. Denis, of course, was synonymous with the many years of success at Pontypridd and rose to coach Wales. Paul enjoyed a glittering playing career and became an international. This season, as Head Coach at Sardis Road, he took Ponty to the cup final and third place in the Premiership.

JUSTIN BURNELL is the Blues Academy Manager and successfully combines that role with the job of Director of Coaching at Cardiff. Last season he saw his side rise to second place in the Premiership and complete a double over the champions, Neath.

Blues Academy Player of the Year, Leigh Halfpenny could add to his collection of end of season awards as he has been nominated for the Newcomer of the Year. Halfpenny has been chosen alongside Ashley Beck (Aberavon) and Jason Tovey. Leigh ended last season's IRB Under 19 World Championship in Belfast as the top scorer and notched 151 league points for new club Cardiff this season. Was instrumental in steering the Blue and Blacks to second place in the Premiership and played for the Blues in their final Magners League match of the season in Connacht to help them steal the runners-up spot in that competition.

The Player of the Year Award will be fought out between Lee Beach (Neath), Bridgend skipper Gareth David and Pontypridd captain Nathan Strong. Strong has become something of a cult figure at Sardis Road since joining Pontypridd in 2005. As captain, he led his side to the Konica Minolta Cup final and third place in the Principality Premiership. A Wales Rugby League international, he was one of the mainstays of the Ponty pack throughout another highly competitive season.