The shortlist of four nominees has been announced for the prestigious IRB Women's Player of the Year
The shortlist of four nominees has been announced for the prestigious IRB Women's Player of the Year, with all four in action in the Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 semi-finals in France.
Ireland full-back Niamh Briggs, France number eight Safi N'Diaye and Canadian duo, captain Kelly Russell and wing Magali Harvey, have been shortlisted for the award.
The management of the 12 teams at Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 and commentators have voted for their top three players after each round with votes tallied to provide the shortlist of nominees.
The winner will be announced on Sunday at the conclusion of Women's Rugby World Cup 2014.
Magali Harvey (Canada) – The wing announced herself on the World Cup stage with a bang, scoring a hat-trick in Canada's opening victory over Spain amid a person haul of 26 points. Harvey, who turns 24 on the eve of the WRWC 2014 final, was also part of the Canadian side which reached the RWC Sevens 2013 final.
Safi N'Diaye (France) – A strong and powerful runner who continually gets over the gain-line, the Montpellier number eight is a key figure in a fearsome French pack that has laid the platform for Les Bleues unbeaten run in 2014. The 26-year-old is a tough tackler and also knows the way to the try-line with a double against South Africa in round two.
Kelly Russell (Canada) – The number eight is playing in her second Women's Rugby World Cup, albeit this time with the added responsibility of captain. A strong runner and another member of Canada's Sevens side, the 27-year-old will be hoping to replicate the try she scored against France at WRWC 2010 when the sides meet in the semi-finals later.
Niamh Briggs (Ireland) – The 29-year-old has been at the heart of everything as Ireland stunned New Zealand en route to reaching the semi-finals for the first time in WRWC history. One of the best attacking full backs in the women's game, she has great tactical awareness and is a reliable kicker, both out of hand and from the tee.
“I would like to congratulate all four of these players who have made the shortlist,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“By making this exclusive list, they have already achieved something special regardless of who eventually wins the award.”
“One of the features of a record-breaking Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 has been the noticeable step forward in terms of quality. The level of skill, athleticism, pace and power has never been so high in the women's game as it is right now and there have never before been so many competitive teams.
“It really is impossible to predict with any degree of certainty who will be lifting the trophy on Sunday and all this bodes well for the future of rugby.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the teams for making this tournament such a spectacle and for putting in such hard work to ensure such a high standard of play.”