IRB Player of the Year 2014 nominations: Jonny Sexton and All Blacks' Julian Savea and Brodie Retallick in line for rugby accolade

 
Joe Hall
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Jonny Sexton is the only European up for IRB Player of the Year (Source: Getty)
Jonny Sexton could have an individual award to add to his Six Nations medal, after the Ireland fly-half was nominated for the IRB Player of the Year 2014.
Sexton is the only European up for the rugby union accolade, with the four other nominees coming from either South Africa or New Zealand.
The All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick and winger Julian Savea are the representatives from the statistically most dominant team of the year. South Africa full-back Willie Le Roux, and number eight Duane Vermeulen make up the rest of the nominees.
The tale of southern hemisphere's dominance is a common one over the years. Ever since the International Rugby Board (IRB) introduced the individual award in 2001, more southern hemisphere players have been nominated than Europeans on nine separate years.
New Zealand have been by far and away the biggest provider of the world’s best rugby talent, according to the various IRB nominating panels over the years. The All Blacks have received 22 nominations for the Player of the Year award - more than England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland put together. No wonder a fearsome air of mystique seems to surround that black jersey.

Players from the All Blacks have won the award six times since it was introduced - however those awards have been shared between just three players; Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Kieran Read.
Both England and Wales lost to south hemisphere sides last weekend (New Zealand and Australia respectively), but Ireland did come out on top in their encounter with South Africa - largely thanks to another virtuoso performance from their no.10.
Johnny Sexton scored 16 points in Ireland’s 29-15 win over South Africa on Saturday evening, to add yet more sheen to a gilded year which saw him finish as the top points scorer in the Six Nations Championship.
However, he faces stiff competition for the IRB award against the likes of Julian Savea, who has 10 international tries so far this year .
The nominees were chosen by an independent IRB Awards panel chaired by Australia’s Rugby World Cup winning captain John Eales, Will Greenwood, Francois Pienaar, Tana Umaga and others.
Eales said:
As always the panellists’ independent deliberations have produced a worthy list of contenders among a strong field. It has been a year where we have seen a levelling in competition with an unpredictability in so many games now.
With a spread of a couple of outside backs, a fly-half, a back-rower and a lock in contention it is not going to be an easy selection to determine the player of the year.

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