Leigh Halfpenny among five nominees for IRB Player of the Year award
Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny has been chosen among five nominees for the International Rugby Board's Player of the Year award.
Halfpenny features alongside South Africa lock Eben Etzebeth, New Zealand number eight Kieran Read, Italy number eight Sergio Parisse and New Zealand centre Ben Smith.
The winner is to be announced at the end of the autumn internationals with Read favourite to succeed fellow All Black Dan Carter in collecting the honour.
Halfpenny was a key player in the British and Irish Lions' series victory over Australia last summer and has enjoyed a stellar year.
The 24-year-old was named the Six Nations player of the tournament after helping Wales defend their title and scooped player of the series for the Lions.
"This award is the ultimate recognition for achievement on the field from the world's top players," IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said.
"The list of previous winners reads like a list of the greats of the modern game and all of our nominees fully deserve their place in the shortlist."
The nominees were chosen by an independent IRB awards panel chaired by Australia's 1999 World-Cup winning captain John Eales and comprising of Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphael Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustin Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace.