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Munster's CJ Stander takes Players' Player of the Year award ahead of Rory Best

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster's bid for PRO12 silverware is set to go right down to the wire but four of Les Kiss's squad missed out on individual gongs at the IRUPA awards.

At the prestigious ceremony in the Powerscourt Hotel in Dublin last night, Munster's CJ Stander was named Players' Player of the Year.

Up against Ulster and Ireland skipper Rory Best, Connacht's Robbie Henshaw and Leinsterman Jack McGrath, the South African received recognition for a stellar first international campaign following his Ireland debut in the Six Nations opener with Wales.

"Receiving recognition from my peers is the ultimate accolade," said Stander.

Best, along with Jared Payne, missed out again when Stander also took home the Supporters' Player of the Year award.

Stuart McCloskey has had a big year for Ulster, and was also handed his Ireland debut, resulting in a nomination for the Young Player of the Year award.

Named in honour of Nevin Spence, the Ulster player who tragically lost his life in 2012, the award went to Leinster's Josh van der Flier.

Craig Gilroy's memorable effort against Scarlets wasn't enough to win best score, Jamie Heaslip's try for Ireland against Italy getting the nod.

Ashleigh Baxter was in the running for Women's Sevens Player of the Year but that went to Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

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