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Johnny Sexton nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year award

The Ireland out-half is joined on the shortlist by Beauden Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Faf de Klerk and Malcolm Marx.

JOHNNY SEXTON’S ROLE in guiding Ireland to a dream season has been recognised with a nomination for the prestigious World Rugby Player of the Year award.

The Leinster out-half is included on a stellar shortlist for the accolade alongside All Blacks pair Beauden Barrett and Rieko Ioane and Springboks Faf de Klerk and Malcolm Marx. 

Johnny Sexton celebrates after the game Sexton helped Ireland to huge success last season. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Sexton, who was previously nominated back in 2014, helped Joe Schmidt’s Ireland to a memorable Six Nations Grand Slam and first series win in Australia for 39 years, playing a key role throughout the course of the season.

The 33-year-old, the oldest nominee for the award, started the international season with that stunning last-gasp drop goal in Paris and has started seven of Ireland’s eight Tests so far in 2018.

Capped 76 times, Sexton also helped steer Leinster to a historic Champions Cup-Pro14 double last term as he continued his consistently outstanding form for both club and country.

Sexton will, however, face stiff competition for the award with Barrett in the running again having won it in 2016 and 2017, and the All Black out-half could become the first player to win it three times in a row.

The 27-year-old has had another impressive season in the famous 10 jersey, scoring seven tries in eight Tests, six of them in the Bledisloe Cup series against Australia, including a record four amid a 30-point haul at Eden Park.

Barrett has helped New Zealand to a series win over France and defend their Rugby Championship title, with the Crusaders pivot set to come up against Sexton at the Aviva Stadium on 17 November.

Ioane, the youngest of the nominees at only 21, is shortlisted for the second year in a row, having also been named World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in 2017.

Anton Lienert-Brown celebrates his try with team mates Beauden Barrett and Luke Whitelock Barrett will be favourite to win the award again. Source: Photosport/Marty Melville/INPHO

The All Blacks winger is the top scorer in Test rugby in 2018, crossing for 11 tries in his eight starts to take his career tally to an impressive 22 tries in 21 appearances.

South African scrum-half de Klerk and hooker Marx complete the shortlist, with the former playing every minute of the Springboks’ Rugby Championship campaign.

Sexton will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Keith Wood as the only Irish player to win the award, with the former Munster hooker receiving the honour back in 2001.

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Brian O’Driscoll [2001, 2002, 2009], Gordon D’Arcy [2004], Paul O’Connell [2006] and Jamie Heaslip [2009 and 2016] were all previously nominated. 

The winner will be announced at the World Rugby Awards in Monte Carlo on 25 November, where Jordan Larmour will also be in the running for Breakthrough Player of the Year.

- Originally published at 13.00 

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