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 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, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín 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.
Previous IRB Player of the Year winners
2013 - Kieran Read (New Zealand)
2012 - Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2011 - Thierry Dusautoir (France)
2010 - Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2009 - Richie McCaw (New Zealand) 2008 - Shane Williams (Wales)
2007 - Bryan Habana (South Africa) 2006 - Richie McCaw (New Zealand) 2005 - Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2004 - Schalk Burger (South Africa) 2003 - Jonny Wilkinson (England)
2002 - Fabien Galthié (France)
2001 - Keith Wood (Ireland).