World rugby player of the year - The nominees
Johnny Sexton facing competition from Beauden Barrett, Faf de Klerk, Rieko Ioane and Malcolm Marx for Sunday's player of the year award
Ireland’s Johnny Sexton in action with New Zealand’s Jack Goodhue last week. Photograph: Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne
BEAUDEN BARRETT (New Zealand)
The 27-year-old could become the first player to win the prestigious accolade three years in a row. In 10 tests for the All Blacks, he helped them retain the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup, scoring 115 points, with seven tries, including a record four in a 30-point haul at Eden Park against Australia.
FAF DE KLERK (South Africa)
Reinstated after a 19-month absence by Rassie Erasmus, the 27-year-old scrumhalf was an ever-present in the Springboks’s series win over England and played virtually every minute of the Rugby Championship, playing a key role in their rejuvenation under the former Munster coach.
RIEKO IOANE (New Zealand)
Shortlisted for the second year running, and last year’s Breakthrough Player of the Year, the 21-year-old left-winger is the top scorer in test rugby in 2018, crossing for 11 tries in his 10 starts to take his career tally to an impressive 22 tries in 23 tests.
MALCOLM MARX (South Africa)
South Africa’s dynamic 24-year-old ball-carrying hooker has played the fewest tests of the nominees with only six, the highlight being his performance and try in the win over New Zealand in Wellington, but his lineout throwing was all askew in this month’s defeat in Twickenham.
JOHNNY SEXTON (Ireland)
Beginning his international year with that drop goal in Paris, the 33-year-old outhalf has been central to Ireland’s Grand Slam, series win in Australia, and wins over Argentina and the All Blacks. Started nine of Ireland’s 10 wins in the year, scored 99 points, and was a replacement in their only defeat, the first test in Australia.