World Rugby has announced two All Blacks and two Springboks on the shortlist for the prestigious Player of the Year award, which will be presented at the World Rugby Awards in Monte Carlo on 25 November.
The nominees for World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard are: Beauden Barrett (New Zealand), Faf de Klerk (South Africa), Rieko Ioane (New Zealand), Malcolm Marx (South Africa) and Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
The shortlist was selected by the star-studded World Rugby Awards panel which comprises Rugby World Cup winners Richie McCaw, John Smit, George Gregan, Maggie Alphonsi and former England coach Clive Woodward alongside Brian O’Driscoll, Fabien Galthié and Agustín Pichot.
Fans and media have been able to have their say on the players who have stood out for them in 2018 and now international captains and coaches will join the panel for one final vote to determine the winners of the prestigious awards.
World Rugby Chair Bill Beaumont said: “The World Rugby Men’s and Women’s 15s Player of the Year awards are always a hotly-contested category, and with so many exceptional candidates to consider the panel have had the challenging task of picking the nominees. I would like to congratulate all 10 players who, deservingly, have been nominated for this year’s award.”
The women's nominees are: Pauline Bourdon (France), Fiao’o Faamausili (New Zealand), Gaëlle Hermet (France), Safi N’Diaye (France) and Jessy Trémoulière (France).
BEAUDEN BARRETT (NEW ZEALAND)
The 27-year-old could become the first player to win the prestigious accolade three years in a row after another impressive season in the All Blacks No.10 jersey. Barrett has scored seven tries in his eight tests in 2018, six of them in the Bledisloe Cup series against Australia, including a record four amid a 30-point haul at Eden Park. The attack-minded fly-half, who is equally at home at full-back, has continued to torment defences with his instinctive play this year, helping New Zealand win the series with France and defend the Rugby Championship title.
FAF DE KLERK (SOUTH AFRICA)
The scrum-half (pictured) returned to the Springbok jersey after missing the 2017 test season and quickly made himself indispensable to new coach Rassie Erasmus, showing why rugby is a sport for all with his ferocious defence and fearless play despite his small stature. The 27-year-old played virtually every minute of South Africa’s Rugby Championship campaign, scoring tries against Argentina and Australia and proving a constant thorn in the side of his opposite numbers across his nine starts.
RIEKO IOANE (NEW ZEALAND)
Ioane, the youngest of the nominees at only 21, is shortlisted for the second year in a row, having also been named World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in 2017. The All Blacks winger is the top scorer in test rugby in 2018, crossing for 11 tries in his eight starts to take his career tally to an impressive 22 tries in 21 tests. Blessed with quick feet and power, Ioane’s quick acceleration means he doesn’t need much space to go around – or through – defenders.
MALCOLM MARX (SOUTH AFRICA)
South Africa’s dynamic ball-carrying hooker has played the fewest tests of the nominees with only six, having missed the Wales test and series win over England in June through injury. With five starts and a try in the win over New Zealand in Wellington, the 24-year-old has picked up where he left off in 2017, combining athleticism, power, pace and a wide skill-set in attack with the breakdown skills to turnover many a ball for South Africa.
JOHNNY SEXTON (IRELAND)
The oldest of the nominees at 33, Sexton has been at the heart of Ireland’s climb to second in the World Rugby Rankings on the back off a Six Nations Grand Slam and first series win in Australia for 39 years. The veteran fly-half, a calming presence in the Irish backline, began the year by kicking a last-minute drop goal to secure victory over France and has started seven of his eight tests, coming off the bench in Ireland’s only loss to date.
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