SINCE its inception in 2001, just six Irish players have been shortlisted for the IRB World Player of the Year, Keith Wood, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Paul O'Connell, Jamie Heaslip and Johnny Sexton but Wood remains the only Irish man to win it, which he did in its inaugural year.
Although it's a tiresome cliche, it has to be acknowledged that Wood was a truly inspirational player for Munster and Ireland. He led in word and deed. When the history of the last 20 years of Irish rugby is written, Wood will feature large in it simply because the example and determination he showed proved the foundation for a lot of the success that followed.
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