The 2013 International season is about to end with the end of year tours to come. This year has seen the All blacks continue their dominance in world rugby. Their only loss since clinching the World Cup was against an English side that was superior on the day, in 2012. They are in a class of their own. Two of their players are favorites to clinch the coveted award. Last year the award went to a New Zealander, Daniel Carter. The All Blacks have had five winners out of a possible twelve. They should make it six in 2013.
Here are the contenders:
• Kieran Read -The best number 8 in the world by miles was pivotal in the Crusaders and All Blacks campaigns including a master class display in the unofficial Rugby Championship final against South Africa at Ellis Park. He displays great technical ability, he is explosive and quite quick, has a skill set of backline players. He possesses great leadership as well; especially when the great Richie McCaw was injured he stepped in seamlessly. The perfect number eight solid off the base, high work rate and also links the backs and the forwards well. Highlight: Setting up the first and scoring the last decisive try that led to the All Blacks winning the game against South Africa.
• Ben Smith –The versatile utility back. Like the super Israel Dagg a few years ago plays for a side that struggles in Super Rugby. He shows his class by putting in cameo performances week in – week out. Despite his side finishing in the bottom of the New Zealand Conference throughout The season he was the best full back in the tournament. Selected for the All Blacks, they preferred Dagg and he was moved to the wing. Finishing top try scorer of the Rugby Championship charts as he continued his magnificent form. A pivotal player to his sides’ successful campaign. Highlight: Hold the record for most Rugby Championship tries, eight in six matches.
• Jean de Villiers- The Springbok captain has led from the front, and in times that needed composure he managed to assure his young side kept their head. He has been the best number 12 in the world this season. He has varied his game, from the odd crash and bash to displaying flair and creativity. Leading the Rugby Championship’s Defenders beaten column and an impressive eight line breaks in 6 games, while being solid on defense bar his mishap on Beauden Barrett’s try. He may be nearing the end of his career but like McCaw continues to put in eye catching displays. If he is to remain at his best he may need to be managed better by SARU. Highlight: Running over Beauden Barrett for the Springboks bonus point try followed by a passionate celebration which gave the Boks a sniff.
• Willie le Roux-The wing-cum fullback has brought an X-factor to this Bok side. A side that was in need of their own version of Israel Dagg. Possibly the most dangerous player on attack in South Africa. He has a deceptive goose-step and has more chips than a Simba packet. He would play the second fly half role at times as he comes from the back and creates and plays with unorganized defense. le Roux’s weakness is defense. An Achilles heel which if sorted out could see him be even more deadly. Highlight: Making his Springbok debut and securing his place in the Springbok XV. Being part of the historic Cheetahs side that made it to the play-offs.
• Leigh Halfpenny- The Welsh diminutive fullback has had a stellar season. Amongst some the best 15 in the game. He went down south with the Lions; they managed to beat Australia 2-1 in the series. The final test being a humbling. Deceptive pace, side step and an accurate radar on his boot saw him claim the player of the series. He was the player of the tournament in the Six Nations as Wales won the title. Clearly the best player in the Northern Hemisphere. Highlight: British and Irish top points scorer: breaking the record held by Neil Jenkins.
These are the contenders.Michael Hooper and Israel Folau, missing out for me but lets see who will win it. I go with one of the All Black players. Ben Smith being the favourite. Excelling at a weak team, and with the mighty All Blacks.Tweet