Johnny Sexton named on IRB Player of the Year shortlist

Ireland outside-half in the mix with two All Blacks and a pair of Springboks for prestigious rugby award

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOqiTeL2XC0&w=500&h=315

Ireland talisman Johnny Sexton has been named on the shortlist for the International Rugby Board’s Player of the Year.

The 29-year-old is the only nominee from the northern hemisphere on the five-man shortlist that includes All Blacks Julian Savea and Brodie Retallick and Springboks duo Willie le Roux and Duane Vermeulen.

The Racing Metro outside-half, who is the oldest of the quintet, helped Ireland to the 2014 Six Nations title, a 2-0 series win in Argentina in June, and was perfect off the tee as Ireland defeated South Africa 29-15 in Dublin last Saturday.

“The IRB World Rugby Player of the Year is one of the most prestigious accolades in rugby and previous winners have all made a significant contribution to the international game over the past decade, inspiring new generations of players and fans,” said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.

“All of these nominees have enjoyed stellar years and the focus on who will claim this accolade will add an extra dimension to the remaining November Tests.”

Australia’s 1999 Rugby World Cup-winning captain John Eales chaired a panel made up of former internationals, including Will Greenwood (England), Scott Quinnell (Wales), Paul Wallace (Ireland), Raphaël Ibanez (France), Tana Umaga (New Zealand) and Francois Pienaar (South Affrica).

The award has been dominated by the southern hemisphere in recent years, and awarded to All Blacks in the last four of the last five years, with All Blacks number 8 Kieran Read receiving the award in 2013.

Former Ireland hooker Keith Wood is the only Irishman to have won the award, back in 2001, while former Wales wing Shane Williams, in 2008, was the last player to win it from the four home nations.

Previous winners:

2013 – Kieran Read (New Zealand)
2012 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2011 – Thierry Dusautoir (France)
2010 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2009 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2008 – Shane Williams (Wales)
2007 – Bryan Habana (South Africa)
2006 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2005 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2004 – Schalk Burger (South Africa)
2003 – Jonny Wilkinson (England)
2002 – Fabien Galthie (France)
2001 – Keith Wood (Ireland)

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