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Ireland's Johnny Sexton in the running for IRB World Player of the Year award


Winning admirers: Johnny Sexton could be named the IRB World Player of the Year

Winning admirers: Johnny Sexton could be named the IRB World Player of the Year

?INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Winning admirers: Johnny Sexton could be named the IRB World Player of the Year

Johnny Sexton has been nominated for the IRB World Player of the Year award.

The Ireland fly-half is the only northern hemisphere player put forward for the prestigious gong after his performances in Ireland's Six Nations win.

Sexton's competition comes from the South African pair of full-back Willie le Roux and No 8 Duane Vermeulen and New Zealand duo of second-row Brodie Retallick and winger Julian Savea.

Ireland forwards coach Greg Feek paid tribute to the Racing Metro man, who returns to Leinster next season, after his starring role in last Saturday's win over South Africa.

"He is well managed and that is key," the New Zealander said.

"He is really the poster boy for being a professional athlete. When you have got someone like that in your team, it does build the guys around him.

"He is the general, he dictates things. He challenges Joe (Schmidt), he challenges the boys. He understands the game-plan so well."

The shortlist for the award was narrowed down by a committee chaired by Australia legend John Eales, involving Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphael Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustin Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace.

Fans will get to have their say on social media, with results of the public vote to be considered by the panel.

Meanwhile, there is change a-foot at camp Ireland as Joe Schmidt looks to shuffle his pack.

Sore bodies will play a part in this week's team selection meetings, as will the fact that the turnaround between Georgia and Australia is a mere six days. The front-liners are expected to be put on ice.

So, some new faces will be given a shot while some more familiar names will be handed game-time, with most of last week's starters expected to be put on ice.

Ulster trio Jared Payne, Chris Henry and Rory Best are out, so, up front, Dave Kilcoyne and Richardt Strauss are expected to rotate into the front-row, with Jack McGrath and Sean Cronin dropping out, while Mike Ross is likely to continue at tighthead.

Behind them, Paul O'Connell will probably be given a rest after a hard-working outing against South Africa, with Dave Foley and Mike McCarthy pushing for the second-row berths, while Rhys Ruddock and Tommy O'Donnell are likely to join the indefatigable Jamie Heaslip in the back-row with Dominic Ryan in line for a debut off the bench.

Behind the scrum, Kieran Marmion is battling Eoin Reddan to start alongside Ian Keatley or Ian Madigan, who remains an option to wear the No 12 shirt alongside Gordon D'Arcy, with Stuart Olding also under consideration.

Felix Jones is likely to start at full-back with Craig Gilroy on one wing, while Darragh Leader could win his first cap on the other after Tommy Bowe sat out training yesterday.

"We've looked at all those scenarios," Feek said with regard to managing workload.

"The key thing is we've got to win this Test match, and we've got a forward pack who has a lot of pride in what we do up front, and we've got to keep working to achieve our goals."

Belfast Telegraph