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Page last updated at 18:37 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 19:37 UK

Williams 'favourite' for top gong

Shane Williams
Shane Williams won the Six Nations player of the tournament

Mike Blair believes Wales superstar Shane Williams should beat him to win the 2008 IRB Player of the Year award.

Williams, Scottish skipper Blair, Wales captain Ryan Jones, All Black fly-half Dan Carter and Italy captain Sergio Parisse are shortlisted for the honour.

Williams broke the Welsh try-scoring record as his six tries inspired Wales to their second Grand Slam success in four years.

"Shane would be my favourite to win the award," Blair admitted to BBC Sport.

Winger Williams, who has scored 43 times in 55 Wales starts, is a member of the Ospreys 'galacticos' that enjoyed EDF Energy Cup glory last season.

But his sensational displays and lethal finishing for Wales won him his second Six Nations clean sweep in four years and captured the imagination of the rugby world.

"Shane brings an excitement to the game that only a select few can," said Edinburgh skipper Blair, one of his rivals for the award.


"And his skills and ability attract a new brand of rugby supporter - not many can do that and that is why Shane is my favourite.

"I feel you must reward guys who are performing at a consistently high-class standard and Shane has been playing well for a couple of seasons.

"His try-scoring stats for Wales are incredible, he plays dazzling rugby with a smile on his face and he has won trophies - you can't ask for more than that."

Scrum-half Blair has shone in an average Scotland side and beat old rivals England in his first game as national team captain in last season's Six Nations.

The 27-year-old has even been tipped as a potential Lions captain for next year's tour to South Africa.

"I'm pleased with the nomination," he admitted.

"I was surprised at the time but I had a good season in my first term as Scotland captain.

"I'm pleased to be nominated but I don't think it will go any further than being nominated.

"I imagined Shane would have been up there because he has had an incredible year."

The IRB International Rugby Player of the Year will be announced at their awards ceremony in London on 23 November.

"The IRB Player of the Year award is the ultimate accolade for a player," said IRB board chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"It takes into account performances in all the major internationals played during the year including the Six Nations, Tri Nations and the summer tests."

The nominees were selected by the award's independent panel of judges - headed by legendary Australian captain John Eales - comprising of more than 500 Test caps between then.

see also
Wales duo nominated for IRB award
24 Sep 08 |  Rugby Union
Blair is Scots' player of season
16 May 08 |  Scottish
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Magners Celtic League
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union

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