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Halfpenny on IRPA award shortlist

Wales and British and Irish Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny has been shortlisted for the inaugural International Rugby Players' Association Players' Player of the Year award.

Halfpenny, who plays club rugby for Cardiff Blues, starred in the Lions' three Tests against Australia in the summer and broke the point-scoring record previously held by Neil Jenkins to be crowned Player of the Series.

The 24-year-old was named alongside New Zealand number eight Kieran Read and centre Ben Smith, who were both instrumental in helping the All Blacks claim an unbeaten run through the calendar year.

Halfpenny, who has also been shortlisted for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, said: "I'm thrilled, to be honest.

"There are awards and there are awards, but to be recognised by the people you play against week-in, week-out - well, that's about as good as it gets."

Smith has also been shortlisted for the IRPA Newcomer of the Year Award, alongside countryman Charles Piutau and Australian dangerman Israel Folau.

The winners of the awards will be announced next week, along with the Players' World XV of the Year and Team of the Year categories.

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