International Rugby
McCaw leads chase for IRB award
ESPNscrum Staff
November 25, 2010
New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw breaks away to score, Australia v New Zealand, Tri-Nations, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, Australia, July 31, 2010
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has claimed the IRB's top honour twice before © Getty Images
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All Blacks captain Richie McCaw heads a star-studded shortlist for this year's International Rugby Board Player of the Year award.

McCaw is in line for a notable hat-trick having claimed the accolade on two previous occasions in 2006 and 2009 but he faces stiff competition from team-mate Mils Muliaina, South Africa's Victor Matfield, France's Imanol Harinordoquy and and young Australian stars David Pocock and Kurtley Beale.

The six nominees have been selected by the IRB "for their outstanding performances throughout a compelling year of international fixtures" with the winner set to be announced on Wednesday, December 1, along with the IRB Coach of the Year and IRB Team of the Year.

"The IRB Player of the Year Award is the greatest individual honour presented annually in our Game. The six players nominated have all enjoyed an exceptional year of international Rugby and have been judged on their performances in the Six Nations, Tri-Nations, June and November Tests," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"It is an impressive shortlist. Richie McCaw has already made history as the first player to win the Award twice, while Imanol Harinordoquy, Victor Matfield and Mils Muliaina have consistently performed to highest standards over the years."

"It is also pleasing to see some of the brightest stars of the world Game in Kurtley Beale and David Pocock also nominated for their achievements during what has been a fascinating year, setting the scene for what promises to be a memorable Rugby World Cup 2011."

The nominees were selected by the IRB Awards independent panel of judges, chaired by Rugby World Cup winning captain John Eales, following a year-long review of all Test matches and thorough consultation and deliberation. The panel comprises some of the biggest names in the Game with Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga, Paul Wallace and Eales winning over 500 caps and boasting four Rugby World Cup winners medals between them.

"The panel watch every major international match throughout the year, providing comprehensive analysis on individual players and casting their vote based on performance and number of appearances," said Eales. "The shortlist represents a great group of people who have come through the diligent voting process."

The IRB Player of the Year Award will be the seventh of the IRB Awards to be presented in 2010. In May, Samoa's Mikaele Pesamino was named IRB Sevens Player of the Year, while New Zealand's Julian Savea received the IRB Junior Player of the Year accolade in June and Women's Rugby World Cup winner Carla Hohepa of New Zealand the IRB Women's Personality of the Year Award in September. Brian O'Shea received the IRB Development Award in October and Colin High was presented with the IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service earlier this month.

Previous Winners of the IRB Player of the Year Award:
2009 - Richie McCaw
2008 - Shane Williams
2007 - Bryan Habana
2006 - Richie McCaw
2005 - Dan Carter
2004 - Schalk Burger
2003 - Jonny Wilkinson
2002 - Fabien Galthie
2001 - Keith Wood

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