Jonathan Sexton nominated for IRB World Rugby Player of the Year award

The Ireland outhalf is one of five nominees and the sole northern hemisphere representitive

Sexton in action (above) against South Africa on Saturday, will now have a real motivation ahead of Ireland’s final two November tests. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Sexton in action (above) against South Africa on Saturday, will now have a real motivation ahead of Ireland’s final two November tests. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

 

Greg Feek succinctly summed up Jonathan Sexton: “He’s The General.”

Following some outstanding performances during the Six Nations and after orchestrating Saturday’s victory over the Springboks, Sexton has been shortlisted for IRB world player of the year.

The Racing Metro 92 outhalf is joined by South Africa pair Willie le Roux and Duane Vermeulen along with All Black winger Julian Savea and perhaps his main rival for the accolade, New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick.

This recognition for Sexton, who returns to Leinster in July following two years in Paris, is a testament to his arduous dual commitments to a foreign club and Ireland since returning from the 2013 Lions tour.

“Johnny is really the poster boy for being a professional athlete,” said Ireland’s assistant coach Greg Feek. “He’ll leave France with a lot of respect from the French for what he has done.”

The nominees

Sexton landed all six kicks at goal in the 29-15 victory over South Africa and broke the defensive line to create the platform that led to Tommy Bowe’s decisive try.

“When you got someone like that in your team it does build the guys,” Feek continued. “He’s the general. He directs play. He understands the game plan so well, he challenges Joe (Schmidt), challenges the boys and nails those kicks.

“It’s great to watch. Sometimes as coaches you watch the game again and watch it differently, you actually enjoy it as you can see him doing his thing.”

Keith Wood, in 2001, is the only previous Irish recipient of the accolade with the judging panel controversially awarding three time winner Richie McCaw ahead of Brian O’Driscoll in 2009.

Former Ireland and Lions prop Paul Wallace is joined by eight other judges - John Eales (chair), Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell and Tana Umaga.

“In support of the initial nomination process, fans now have the chance to have their say on the shortlist via social media,” read today’s IRB statement. “The results of the public vote will be considered by the panel when finalising the winner.”

The winner will be announced after Ireland’s game against Michael Cheika’s Australia on Saturday week.

Sexton’s former Leinster teammates Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy and Jamie Heaslip are all previous nominees, as was Paul O’Connell in 2006 and Keith Wood in 2001 when he claimed the inaugural award.

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 Galthié (France) 2001 - Keith Wood (Ireland)

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