Sexton, Savea, Retallick, Le Roux, Vermeulen up for IRB award

Jonathan Sexton scores for Ireland against France
Sexton has enjoyed a stellar year in the 10 shirt for Six Nations champions Ireland

Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton is one of five nominees for the International Rugby Board World Player of the Year Award.

The 29-year-old joins New Zealand pair Julian Savea and Brodie Retallick, and South African duo Willie Le Roux and Duane Vermeulen on the shortlist.

Keith Wood, in 2001, is the only Irishman to have won the award.

Wales' Shane Williams was the last home nations player to win, in 2008, while England's Jonny Wilkinson won in 2003.

NameCountryAgePositionCapsTries/points
Willie Le RouxSouth Africa25Full-back227 tries (35 pts)
Brodie RetallickNew Zealand23Second row351 try (5 pts)
Julian SaveaNew Zealand24Wing3129 tries (145 pts)
Jonathan SextonIreland29Fly-half49412 pts (inc 9 tries)
Duane VermeulenSouth Africa28Number eight262 tries (10 pts)

The panel that selected the shortlist was chaired by Australia's 1999 World Cup-winning captain John Eales and included the likes of ex-England centre Will Greenwood, former Scotland captain Gavin Hastings, ex-Wales number eight Scott Quinnell and former Ireland prop Paul Wallace.

They reviewed every major Test played in 2014 up until the present day and Eales said selecting the winner would not be an easy task.

"With a spread of a couple of outside backs, a fly-half, a back-rower and a lock in contention it is not going to be an easy selection to determine the Player of the Year," said Eales.

Fans can vote on who they think should win via social media and the results of the public vote will be considered by the panel when finalising the winner, who will be revealed at their nation's final match of 2014.

Previous IRB Player of the Year Award 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 Galthie (France); 2001 - Keith Wood (Ireland)

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