The IRB has announced the shortlist for the Player of the Year with two South Africans, two All Blacks and one Irishman nominated.
The IRB has announced the shortlist for the 2014 Player of the Year, with two South Africans, two All Blacks and one Irishman nominated.
The 2014 nominees are: Willie le Roux (South Africa), Brodie Retallick (New Zealand), Julian Savea (New Zealand), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland) and Duane Vermeulen (South Africa).
WILLIE LE ROUX (South Africa): A strong and elusive runner from full-back, Willie le Roux has started all 10 of South Africa’s Tests in 2014 to take his tally to 22 Tests since his debut against Italy in June 2013. The 25-year-old, who has scored seven Test tries, is strong under the high ball and is potentially the most exciting South Africa outside back to come onto the scene since Bryan Habana.
BRODIE RETALLICK (New Zealand): A towering presence in the lineout, Brodie Retallick’s partnership with Sam Whitelock makes arguably the best second row in world rugby at present. The 23-year-old’s powerful runs and work-rate across the pitch have brought him to the fore in 2014. An IRB Junior World Championship winner in 2011, Retallick has 35 Tests and one try – against South Africa in the 2013 Rugby Championship – to his name.
JULIAN SAVEA (New Zealand): With a try-scoring rate that few can match, Julian Savea has inevitably drawn comparisons with legendary All Black wing Jonah Lomu this year. The 24-year-old has scored 10 tries in 2014, including a hat-trick against England in the third Test in June, to take his tally to 29 tries in just 31 Tests. Savea was named the IRB Junior Player of the Year in 2010 after helping New Zealand win a third successive IRB Junior World Championship title.
JONATHAN SEXTON (Ireland): The oldest of the nominees at 29, Jonathan Sexton has been the stand-out player for Ireland in 2014 as they claimed the Six Nations title, a first series win in Argentina in June and the scalp of South Africa in Dublin last weekend. His control of the game at fly-half and perfect record from the kicking tee earned the 49-Test veteran the man of the match award against the Springboks.
DUANE VERMEULEN (South Africa): A classic South African number 8, Duane Vermeulen has won plaudits across the world in 2014 for his work at the breakdown, power in the tackle and his destructive ball carrying. With 26 Tests to his name, the 28-year-old was named man of the man in South Africa’s 27-25 victory over world champions New Zealand in October with his battle with Kieran Read worth the admission price alone.
“The IRB World Rugby Player of the Year is one of the most prestigious accolades in Rugby and previous winners have all made a significant contribution to the international Game over the past decade, inspiring new generations of players and fans,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“All of these nominees have enjoyed stellar years and the focus on who will claim this accolade will add an extra dimension to the remaining November Tests.”
The IRB World Rugby Player of the Year 2014 nominees were selected by the independent IRB Awards panel, chaired by Australia’s Rugby World Cup 1999 winning captain John Eales.
The panel, comprising Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Rapha