Rugby

McCaw up for 4th IRB award

2012-11-28 19:44
Richie McCaw (AFP)

Dublin - New Zealand captain Richie McCaw is in contention to win the IRB Player of the Year award for a fourth time after being included in a four-man shortlist for the 2012 prize.

All Black flyhalf Dan Carter also made the cut on Wednesday with two surprising entries - back-up England No 10 Owen Farrell and another flyhalf, the rejuvenated Frederic Michalak of France.

McCaw is the only player to have received the accolade more than once in its 11-year history, having won in 2006, 2009 and 2010. Carter won it in 2005.

McCaw is the most capped All Black in history with 115 Tests and 19 tries and this year he became the first player to win 100 Tests and most as captain.

He will take a six month sabbatical from the game in 2013.

His All Black team-mate Carter injured a groin in 2011 that ruled him out of most of New Zealand's triumphant Rugby World Cup campaign, but he has bounced back in style to become the leading point-scorer in Test rugby in 2012.

IRB chairperson Bernard Lapasset said that it had been a difficult choice to select only four candidates.

"As ever, the competition has been fierce and the panel had a tough time deliberating the shortlist from a number of stand-out candidates," Lapasse said. "All four players on the shortlist thoroughly deserve their place after standout performances during the year and consistency in the tough environment that is Test rugby."

The winner will be announced on December 3, along with IRB Coach of the Year and IRB Team of the Year.

For the third year in a row the shortlist includes a player to have graduated from the IRB Junior World Championship to the Test arena with Farrell following in the footsteps of Australian trio David Pocock, Will Genia and Kurtley Beale.

Farrell made his England debut as flyhalf in the opening Six Nations match against Scotland at Murrayfield and played in the Test series loss in South Africa.

He turned 21 in September and is vying for the No 10 shirt with Toby Flood. Farrell is the son of former England dual code international Andy Farrell, who is now an assistant coach of the national team.

Michalak was recalled to the France national team after an absence of more than two years by coach Philippe Saint-Andre for the June tour to Argentina.

Michalak has been the architect of Les Bleus' run of four consecutive victories over Argentina (twice), Australia and Samoa which have secured them a top-four seeding spot in the IRB world rankings for the 2015 World Cup. That means they will avoid the top three southern hemisphere teams in the pool stage.

The rejuvenated flyhalf has returned from another spell in Super Rugby with the Sharks to reignite an international career that looked to have stalled with just four appearances since the 2007 World Cup.

The IRB Player of the Year nominees were selected by the IRB Awards independent panel of judges, which is chaired by former Australia captain John Eales - who won the 1991 and 1999 World Cups - and is made up of former internationals with more than 500 caps between them.

The panel comprises Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphael Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustin Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace.

France flank Thierry Dusautoir captured the 2011 award.

Previous IRB Player of the Year winners:

2011 – Thierry Dusautoir (France)
2010 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2009 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2008 – Shane Williams (Wales)
2007 – Bryan Habana (South Africa)
2006 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2005 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2004 – Schalk Burger (South Africa)
2003 – Jonny Wilkinson (England)
2002 – Fabien Galthie (France)
2001 – Keith Wood (Ireland)

HAVE YOUR SAY: Are these really the four best players from the past year? If so, who deserves the IRB Player of the Year title most: Carter, McCaw, Michalak or Farrell? Send your thoughts to Sport24.

Read more on:    all blacks  |  richie mccaw  |  rugby
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