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Farrell shortlisted for IRB Player of the Year
ESPN Staff
November 28, 2012
Owen Farrell goes for the posts, France v England, Six Nations, Stade de France, Paris, France, March 11, 2012
England's Owen Farrell is one of four players shortlisted for the IRB's top award © Getty Images
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England fly-half Owen Farrell has picked up a surprise nomination for the International Rugby Board's Player of the Year award.

Farrell, England's back-up fly-half who is set to make a rare start against New Zealand on Saturday with first-choice playmaker Toby Flood injured, has been shortlisted alongside All Blacks duo Richie McCaw and Dan Carter as well as France's Frederic Michalak.

The selection of 21-year-old Farrell will shock many with the likes of Argentina captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Wales flanker Dan Lydiate, the Player of the Championship in this year's Six Nations, All Blacks No.8 Kieran Read, South Africa winger Bryan Habana and Australia flanker David Pocock among those to miss out despite outstanding seasons.

McCaw is the only player to receive the individual accolade more than once, having won it in 2006, 2009 and 2010, although Carter could join him as a multiple winner, having been named Player of the Year back in 2005.

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "It has been a compelling year of international Rugby with the introduction of the expanded Tours and Tests calendar, Argentina's successful inauguration into The Rugby Championship and the race for rankings points to secure a favourable RWC 2015 Pool draw.

"As ever, the competition has been fierce and the panel had a tough time deliberating the shortlist from a number of stand-out candidates. All four players on the shortlist thoroughly deserve their place after standout performances during the year and consistency in the tough environment that is Test Rugby."

The IRB Player of the Year nominees were selected by the IRB Awards independent panel of judges, which is chaired by Australia's RWC'99 winning captain John Eales and also includes Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace.

"This has been one of the closest years to date. In fact the result could be influenced significantly by this weekend's matches, making it a highly contested prize," said panel chairman Eales.

The winner of the prestigious Award will be announced at the Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool Allocation Draw in London on December 3, along with the IRB Coach of the Year and IRB Team of the Year Awards.

Previous winners:
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 Galthié (France)
2001 - Keith Wood (Ireland)

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