IRB Awards
IRB Player of the Year nominees announced
September 24, 2008
Dan Carter in action during the 2008 Tri Nations series match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the South African Springboks at Westpac Stadium on July 5, 2008 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Carter won the sport's top honour in 2005 and is in the running once again © Getty Images

The International Rugby Board has announced the shortlist of five nominees for the IRB Player of the Year award. The winner will be announced at the IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline in London on November 23.

Scotland scrum half Mike Blair, New Zealand fly half and 2005 IRB Player of the Year Dan Carter, Italy captain Sergio Parisse and Wales pair Shane Williams and Ryan Jones have been nominated for the Game's most prestigious award.

Jones led Wales to their second RBS 6 Nations title and Grand Slam in four years last season, and is favourite for Lions captaincy duties in South Africa next summer. His Ospreys team-mate Williams, meanwhile, broke Gareth Thomas' Wales try-scoring record last term, and currently has 43 touchdowns from 58 Test appearances.

The diminutive wing is regarded as one of world rugby's most dangerous attackers, and would be seen in many quarters as favourite for the IRB award. Scrum-half Blair skippered Scotland to Calcutta Cup glory against England at Murrayfield last March, while Carter took the IRB's top accolade in 2005.

Carter guided New Zealand to this year's Tri-Nations title, underlining his status as the world's leading fly-half, and Parisse has led Italy under the coaching regime of Nick Mallett, establishing himself among the most consistent number eights in international rugby.

"The IRB Player of the Year Award is the ultimate accolade for a player and takes into account performances in all the major internationals played during the year including the RBS Six Nations, Tri Nations and the June-July Tests," said International Rugby Board Chairman, Bernard Lapasset.

"The list of past winners of this coveted award is impressive and reads like a who's who of the international Game in recent years. Jonny Wilkinson, Schalk Burger, Richie McCaw, Fabien GalthiƩ, Dan Carter, Bryan Habana and Keith Wood were all worthy recipients of the award, while Carter would be the first player to win twice should he be selected," added Lapasset.

The nominees were selected by the Awards' independent panel of judges, comprising former internationals with over 500 Test caps between them. The panel, which also votes on the IRB Team and Coach of the Year during the same period, has deliberated over every major Test this year.

Tana Umaga, Raphaƫl Ibanez, Will Greenwood, Francois Pienaar, Agustin Pichot, Gavin Hastings, Scott Quinnell, Paul Wallace and convenor John Eales watched over 47 hours of action from 35 matches, awarding points to the three players they thought stood out in each match.

"Now that the shortlist has been selected the panel will reconvene during the November Tests when the IRB Player of the Year will be selected. The announcement will be made at the IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline in London on November 23, which is the most prestigious annual celebration of the international Game," added Lapasset.

The IRB Player of the Year is one of 13 categories of awards that include the IRB Coach of the Year, IRB Team of the Year, IRB Sevens Player of the Year, IRB Junior Player of the Year and IRB Women's Personality of the Year. The event also recognises outstanding achievement and there are two awards run in conjunction with the International Rugby Players' Association (IRPA); the IRPA Special Merit award and the IRPA Try of the Year.

During the IRB Awards a total of five candidates will be inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame - two from the 19th Century, two from the 20th Century and one from the 21st Century.

Full list of categories:

IRB Player of the Year

Mike Bair (Scotland), Dan Carter (New Zealand), Sergio Parisse (Italy), Ryan Jones (Wales), Shane Williams (Wales)

IRB Coach of the Year

IRB Team of the Year

IRB Sevens Player of the Year

DJ Forbes (New Zealand), Uale Mai (Samoa), Fabian Juries (South Africa)

IRB Junior Player of the Year

Luke Braid (New Zealand), Chris Smith (New Zealand), Joe Simpson (England)

IRB Hall of Fame

IRB Development Award

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service

IRB Women's Personality of the Year

IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service in association with Emirates Airline Spirit of Rugby Award

IRPA Try of the Year

IRPA Special Merit Award


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