Brits up for IRB award

Jones, Williams and Blair up for top gong

Last Updated: 24/09/08 1:08pm

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Jones: Nominated

Jones: Nominated

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British trio Ryan Jones, Shane Williams and Mike Blair are among the nominees for the International Rugby Board player of the year award.

Wales captain Jones and his international colleague Williams feature on a five-strong list, alongside Scotland scrum-half Blair.

The other two contenders are New Zealand's imperious fly-half Dan Carter, who will begin a lucrative six-month contract with French club Perpignan in December, and Italy skipper Sergio Parisse.

Jones led Wales to their second RBS Six 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.

Impressive

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.

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The IRB player of the year award is the ultimate accolade for a player.

"It 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.

"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 Galthie, 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."

The awards judges, a contingent that includes John Eales, Gavin Hastings and Francois Pienaar, will also vote on the IRB's team and coach of the year.

Lapasset added: "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."

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