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O'Driscoll leads IRB nominations

Brian O'Driscoll
Ireland's try-scoring captain Brian O'Driscoll leads the nominations

Brian O'Driscoll leads the nominations for the 2009 International Rugby Board player of the year, as one of two Irish stars on the shortlist.

Leinster number eight Jamie Heaslip appears alongside O'Driscoll with Tom Croft as England's only representative.

New Zealand open-side flanker Richie McCaw is a perennial nominee as is Australian fly-half Matt Giteau.

Making up the extended seven-man list are South African duo Francois Steyn and Fourie du Preez.

The nominees were selected by the IRB Awards independent panel of judges, comprising former internationals with over 500 Test caps between them.

Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustin Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga, Paul Wallace and convenor John Eales watched over 60 hours of action from 46 matches, awarding points to the three players they thought stood out in each match.

O'Driscoll will be favourite to become the second Irishman to be named player of the year with Keith Wood winning the inaugural vote in 2001.

The Ireland captain's match-saving try upon his 100th Test appearance in the 20-20 draw with Australia will have done his cause no harm.

It continues a seismic year for O'Driscoll, who emerged from the RBS Six Nations as player of the tournament having led Ireland to only their second Grand Slam.

He then rescaled those heights during the Lions series against the Springboks until concussion forced him home after the second Test.

"Now that the shortlist has been selected, the panel will reconvene at the completion of the November Tests when the IRB Player of the Year will be selected," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"The announcement will be made at the conclusion of the final weekend of matches."

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see also
Ireland 20-20 Australia
15 Nov 09 |  Irish
Ireland v Australia as it happened
15 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Prop Healy wins first Ireland cap
11 Nov 09 |  Irish
Hayes ban reduced to five weeks
13 Oct 09 |  Rugby Union
Horan out of Ireland autumn games
06 Nov 09 |  Irish
Henry called into Ireland squad
27 Oct 09 |  Rugby Union

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