New Zealand number eight Kieran Read's fine year continues to get better after he was voted player of the year by the game's fans.
New Zealand number eight Kieran Read's fine year continues to get better after he was voted player of the year by the game's international fan base.
Read won the award at the Ultimate Rugby International Rugby Players' Association (IRPA) Fans' Awards to top off his fine year where he also won the IRPA's inaugural rugby Players' Player of the Year Award, the IRB World Player of the Year title and New Zealand's Kel Tremain trophy as their best player for 2013.
The Crusaders stalwart had stiff competition for the fans' award but in the end he beat out Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny and Irish back-row Sean O'Brien.
Fans took a different view to the players, however, when it came to naming their World XV. Only five All Blacks made the side. The back row trio of Read, Richie McCaw and Liam Messam are joined by fly-half Dan Carter and outside centre Conrad Smith.
Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia was a surprise choice ahead of All Black counterpart Aaron Smith for the number nine berth.
Genia said he was thrilled to be recognised by the fans.
“It's great the fans have been invited to participate in these awards,” he told Fairfax Media. “They're such a vital part of the international rugby machinery; it's good to see they have a chance to have their say.
“And, of course, I'm doubly pleased they've included me in their World XV.”
In other surprises, fellow Wallaby Israel Folau was preferred at right wing to New Zealand's Ben Smith while another All Black, Sam Whitelock, was pipped to one of the second row positions by Alun Wyn Jones of Wales.
IRPA officials said tens of thousands of rugby fans voted for their Player of the Year and World XV via the Ultimate Rugby app, as part of IRPA's first annual awards ceremony.
Fans' World XV of the Year: 15 Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), 14 Israel Folau (Australia), 13 Conrad Smith (NZ), 12 Jean de Villiers (South Africa), 11 George North (Wales), 10 Dan Carter (NZ), 9 Will Genia (Australia), 8 Kieran Read (NZ), 7 Richie McCaw (New Zealand), 6 Liam Messam (NZ), 5 Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales), 4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa), 3 Adam Jones (Wales), 2 Bismarck de Plessis (South Africa), 1 Alex Corbisiero (England).