Ireland's Rob Kearney wins ERC player of the year title
Ireland and Leinster full-back Rob Kearney has been named as the European player of the year for 2011-12.
The 26-year-old beat off competition from clubmate Jonathan Sexton, Ulster duo Stephen Ferris and Ruan Pienaar, and English fly-half Jonny Wilkinson.
Kearney has been capped 38 times by Ireland and was an integral part of Leinster's Heineken Cup-winning team.
He started all of Leinster's European games as the Irish province triumphed for the third time in four years.
That nine-game run culminated in a 42-14 victory over Ulster in the final on Saturday.
The full-back, who succeeds team-mate Sean O'Brien as the winner of northern hemisphere rugby's ultimate individual accolade, scored six tries during the campaign and put in a series of consistently high performances.
"It really is an honour to have won this ERC award," said Kearney.
"While I am delighted with the recognition, an individual player is powerless without the support of his team-mates.
"So I owe this to the Leinster squad, to the management and to all the backroom staff at the club."