IRB announces shortlist for Player of the Year
November 22, 2013
Kieran Read and Ben Smith have proven to be two of the best players around the world this year © Getty Images
All Blacks Kieran Read and Ben Smith, South African lock Eben Etzebeth, Italian No.8 Sergio Parisse and Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny are the five nominees for the IRB's World Rugby Player of the Year.
Read and Smith both present strong cases for the top prize following influential roles in helping New Zealand win 13 from 13 Tests in 2013 heading into Sunday's season-ending game against Ireland in Dublin.
Smith scored 11 tries, mostly when playing on the wing, while No.8 Read has unfurled an all-round game, which has netted him six tries from his last six Tests.
Halfpenny was named player of the Six Nations and kicked with deadly accuracy during the Lions' 2-1 series win over the Wallabies.
Etzebeth has impressed with his physicality in just his second year of Test rugby while the athletic Parisse's standards have been consistently high.
All Blacks five-eighth Dan Carter won the award for a second time last year. New Zealand captain Richie McCaw is the only other multiple winner since the awards were introduced in 2001, claiming the honour three times.
The nominees were selected by an independent panel of nine former Test players headed by Australian great John Eales and including former All Blacks skipper Tana Umaga.
A public vote will be considered by the panel when they reconvene on November 30. The winner will be unveiled shortly afterwards, along with Team of the Year and Coach of the Year.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
A preview of the 2014-15 Aviva Premiership season as we run the rule over Bath, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester, Harlequins, Leicester Tigers and London Irish
ESPN looks at the forthcoming season of the Guinness PRO12 and assesses how each of the 12 teams will do
"Like the Treaty of Versailles, despite all the promises, the new Participation Agreement is certainly not the final solution." John Taylor writes
"We know where we are going and we know where we want to get but how long that will take is anybody's guess." David Humphreys on his plans for Gloucester