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'Kieran Read is the best player in the world right now' - David Wallace

The All Blacks’ No.8 is the current favourite to win the IRB Player of the Year award.

Kieran Read is chased by Keith Earls in Ireland's first Test against New Zealand in 2012.
Kieran Read is chased by Keith Earls in Ireland's first Test against New Zealand in 2012.
Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

THE IRB WORLD Player of the Year will be announced in December and, barring a double hat-trick in the final weeks of November, looks to be a two-horse race.

Leigh Halfpenny kicked Wales and the Lions to success earlier this year and is consistently delivering on the talent he first showed back in 2009. Kieran Read has enjoyed an excellent year for New Zealand as they rack up Test win after Test win. The All Blacks’ No.8 has scored six tries in his last six games and was immense in The Rugby Championship as his team claimed more silverware.

Former Ireland flanker David Wallace — in keeping with the forwards’ union — has thrown his hat in behind the New Zealander for the accolade.

Wallace said, “Read has really come to the fore in the last couple of seasons and is the form player in the world right now, in any position. He seems to have it all.”

“I played against him a few times in the past and was really impressed by his agility and speed. You would not assume from his physical appearance — he’s a big guy — that he could do you damage but he certainly can move. I found that out to my cost a few years ago [2010] in New Zealand.

We were down to 13 men as we had Jamie [Heaslip] red-carded and ROG {Ronan O’Gara] in the sin-bin. We were a bit stretched out wide but, still, I thought I had him covered. He got around the outside and set Jimmy Cowan up for an easy score.”

Former All Blacks scrum-half Justin Marshall believes Read has flourished in an altered, attacking role ever since blindside Liam Messam came into the starting XV.

Marshall told TheScore.ie: “Kieran has been in brilliant form and, at times when the All Blacks have needed something in the match, he is the guy that sparks them with something in defence or attack.

With Liam Messam and Richie McCaw committed to the breakdown, it frees Kieran up and suits the way he likes to play. He has that licence to roam around the field and you find him so often out on the wing in a two-on-two.”

Read’s ability to offload in the tackle, as he did so magnificently [go to 1:45 in the video] to set up Julian Savea’s first try against England, is a result of the team’s willingness to venture new skills and offloads in the heat of battle.

YouTube credit: Rugbymeet

“Read is a master of backing himself to try something new under pressure,” said Marshall. “It is encouraged by the coaches and we saw it again with Charles Piutau’s wonderful offload, for Read to score, against France.”

The most Read will admit about his outstanding year is an admission that he has been playing ‘at a pretty high level’. The Papakura native explains that the motivation to achieve success in the black jersey is not confined to personal ambitions or those of the team.

Read told TheScore.ie: “The All Blacks is bigger than just a game in New Zealand. Certainly, you come and there’s rich tradition, culture and a lot to live up to. There’s pressure there and expectations which is what you want. It’s  just living up to those.

“It’s ingrained in us to live up to those and to go out there and play well. And do, not only that, but to win. Just the way we’re brought through as players and probably as a nation, I guess.”

Like rugby? Follow TheScore.ie’s dedicated Twitter account @rugby_ie >

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Patrick McCarry

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