■ Sex­ton only north­ern hemi­sphere player on shorlist

Out­half could be­come first Ir­ish­man to win the award since Keith Wood in 2001

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

Johnny Sex­ton could be­come the first Ir­ish­man in 17 years to be crowned World Rugby Player of the Year after he was nom­i­nated as the only south­ern hemi­sphere player on the short­list.

Sex­ton has been listed along­side Beau­den Bar­rett (New Zealand), Faf de Klerk (South Africa), Rieko Ioane (New Zealand) and Mal­colm Marx (South Africa) after a stel­lar year which in­cluded win­ning the Six Na­tions with Ire­land.

The short­list was selected by a panel made up of Rugby World Cup win­ners Richie McCaw, John Smit, Ge­orge Gre­gan, Mag­gie Alphonsi and former Eng­land coach Clive Wood­ward along­side Ire­land’s Brian O’Driscoll, Fa­bien Galthié and Agustín Pi­chot.

Fans will now have the chance to give their vote to who they be­lieve to be most de­serv­ing of the award be­fore in­ter­na­tional cap­tains and coaches will join the panel for one fi­nal vote to de­ter­mine the win­ner.

Stand­out mo­ment

Sex­ton is the old­est of the nom­i­nees at the age of 33. The Le­in­ster kicker helped Ire­land climb up to sec­ond in the world rank­ings and also claim a first se­ries win over Aus­tralia in 39 years.

How­ever, per­haps the stand­out mo­ment for Sex­ton was his last minute drop goal to give Ire­land a dra­matic win in their open­ing Six Na­tions match away to France, set­ting in mo­tion the jour­ney to Grand Slam glory.

If Sex­ton is to win the award and be­come the first Ir­ish­man since Keith Wood in 2001 to do so he will have to beat some stiff op­po­si­tion which in­cludes All Black Beau­den Bar­rett who is gun­ning for the ti­tle for a third year in a row.

Monte Carlo

Bar­rett has scored seven tries in his eight Tests in 2018, six of them in the Bledis­loe Cup se­ries against Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing a record four amid a 30-point haul at Eden Park and will most likely lineup against Sex­ton later this month when Ire­land meet New Zealand in Dublin.

De Klerk and Marx are the two Spring­bok nom­i­nees after they helped Rassie Eras­mus’ side to pull them­selves back to­wards the top of world rugby while All Black Ioane is the youngest nom­i­nee at 21.

The award will be pre­sented at the World Rugby Awards at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo on Novem­ber 25th, along with the women’s award for which the nom­i­nees are: Pauline Bour­don (France), Fiao’o Faa­mausili (New Zealand), Gaëlle Her­met (France), Safi N’Di­aye (France) and Jessy Tré­moulière (France).

PHO­TO­GRAPH: DAN SHERI­DAN/INPHO

Johnny Sex­ton has been short­listed for World Player of the Year after a sea­son which in­cluded scor­ing a late drop goal to beat France.

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