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Themba Hadebe/AP/Press Association Images Warburton deserves to be recognised, despite the unfortunate end to his tournament.
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Absent friends: here's our alternative Rugby Player of the Year nominations
As the IRB announced their list of shortlisted stars today, we highlight some of the individuals who were unfortunate to miss out.

EARLIER TODAY, the shortlisted IRB Player of the Year nominations were announced, prompting considerable debate.

Some people were peeved at the ostensible preference given to players from the Southern Hemisphere.

Therefore, we at TheScore.ie have decide to rectify some of the glaring omissions in the IRB list with our alternative Player of the Year nominations:

Sam Warburton (Wales)

More than a few eyebrows were raised when Gatland made the decision to appoint the relatively inexperienced Cardiff Blues man as his captain. However, Warburton more than repaid his manager’s faith in him with a string of excellent performances. Moreover, the unfortunate manner in which Warburton’s tournament ended should not be held against him.

Sean O’Brien (Ireland)

Since this tournament began, O’Brien has acquired near-legendary status, owing to his ability to exert his considerable influence on games. O’Brien was perhaps the most startling omission from the IRB Player of the Year shortlist, as not only did he deliver a series of accomplished World Cup performances, but he also performed spectacularly all year for Leinster and proved a pivotal part of their Heineken Cup success.

Julien Bonnaire (France)

Were it not for Bonnaire, it’s unlikely that France would still be in with a chance of winning the World Cup. The Clermont Auvergne talisman has been an influential figure for Marc Lievremont’s men. In contrast to many of his teammates at the World Cup, Bonnaire’s courage, coupled with his tireless work ethic, has been a sight to behold.

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Israel Dagg (New Zealand)

Excluded from the IRB list presumably on the basis that there were already too many New Zealand players on it, Israel Dagg is undeniably one of the most exciting players in world rugby today. Dagg’s attacking threat is complemented by a solidity in defence. He was also part of the much-heralded back three that proved so influential for New Zealand in the semi-final, as they simply refused to drop high balls and attacked with noticeable purpose.

Digby Ioane (Australia)

While some of his colleagues didn’t consistently perform to the level required, Ioane can be more than satisfied with his Rugby World Cup displays. He was Australia’s most threatening back against New Zealand, and his absence during their worst moment - the 15-6 loss to Ireland – was telling.

Do you agree with our choices? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Read: Plus ca change… Lievremont names same French side for World Cup decider>

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