CUMNOCK rugby star, Mark Bennett has been shortlisted for a top award at the world cup.

Former Cumnock ace, Mark Bennett has been named as one of three nominees for the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year Award 2015.

The independent selection panel, which included 139-times Australia cap George Gregan and former Argentinian centre Felipe Contepomi, nominated Bennett for the prestigious award alongside New Zealand’s Nehe Milner-Skudder and Georgia’s Vasil Lobzhanidze.

The Scotland and Glasgow Warriors centre said of his nomination: “I was absolutely over the moon when I realised I was up for the award. It’s fair to say I was completely surprised, too.

“I haven’t played much rugby this season, and the international stage has been a big step up, but I’ve loved every second of it.”

Bennett made his international debut in Scotland’s 41-31 autumn test win over Argentina at BT Murrayfield in November 2014 and has gone on to win 13 caps and bagged himself six tries.

At the World Cup Bennett crossed the line to score two fine scores in Scotland’s emphatic 45-10 victory over Japan in the opening test of the flagship tournament.

He scored his sixth international try in a heartbreaking World Cup quarter-final against Australia, when he intercepted a James Slipper pass to touchdown and equalise for Scotland in the 73rd minute of play.

Reflecting on the experience of playing at the flagship tournament, he said: “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.

“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 who of Twickenham was behind us.”

The winner will be announced at the World Rugby Awards dinner in London on Sunday November 1.