Six of the best

Three All Blacks, two Wallabies and one Frenchman have been shortlisted for the 2011 IRB Player of the Year award.

All Blacks scrumhalf Piri Weepu, flanker Jerome Kaino and centre Ma’a Nonu, Wallabies flanker David Pocock and scrumhalf Will Genia, and Les Bleus skipper Thierry Dusautoir are all in line for the prestigious accolade. Pocock has been nominated for the second year in a row, losing out to All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw last year.

The IRB Player of the Year nominees were selected by an independent panel of judges, which is chaired by former Wallabies captain John Eales. Other members are Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace. Every major Test played in 2011 has been taken into consideration, starting with the opening Six Nations match and culminating with the World Cup final.

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in Auckland on Monday. Other prizes given on the night will be IRB Coach of the Year, IRB Team of the Year, IRB Sevens Player of the Year, IRB Junior Player of the Year and IRB Women’s Personality of the Year.

2011 IRB Player of the Year Nominees:
Piri Weepu
Jerome Kaino
Ma’a Nonu
David Pocock
Will Genia
Thierry Dusautoir

Previous winners:
2010 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2009 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2008 – Shane Williams (Wales)
2007 – Bryan Habana (South Africa)
2006 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2005 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2004 – Schalk Burger (South Africa)
2003 – Jonny Wilkinson (England)
2002 – Fabien Galthié (France)
2001 – Keith Wood (Ireland)