New Zealand number 8 Kieran Read has been named the IRB Player of the Year 2013, the third Kiwi to win the prestigious award.
The 28-year-old has enjoyed a fantastic year in the heart of the All Blacks’ pack and played no small part in ensuring his team went through 2013 with a perfect record.
His influence has been huge, as demonstrated by his workload in the scrum, lineout, his tackling, his ability to compete in the air and at the breakdown, not to mention the tendency to be in the right place at the right time when it comes to creating or scoring tries.
He has played 61 Tests for New Zealand, the majority of them in the back row alongside Richie McCaw, and is now the most prolific try-scoring number 8 in world Rugby.
Read is the third New Zealander to be named IRB Player of the Year, following in the footsteps of teammates Dan Carter (2005 and 2012) and Richie McCaw (2006, 2009 and 2010).
He edged out Eben Etzebeth (South Africa), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Sergio Parisse (Italy) and Ben Smith (New Zealand) for the award in a closely fought contest during a year of spectacular performances on the international stage.
The accolade completes a hat-trick of awards for New Zealand, as the All Blacks were named IRB Team of the Year for the seventh time and Steve Hansen the IRB Coach of the Year for the second year in succession.
"It’s certainly special to have the All Blacks named for all three IRB awards" - Steve Hansen
Under Hansen’s guidance New Zealand won all 14 of their Test matches during 2013, a feat that has never before been achieved in the professional era. In that time his team won the Bledisloe Cup for the 11th successive year on their way to retaining The Rugby Championship title.
IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB player, coach and team awards bring the international Rugby year to a close and what a year it has been for New Zealand.
"They seem to reach new levels of excellence every year and although some managed to push them very close, they were clearly the stand-out team of the year.”
“From a starting point of brilliance, Kieran Read has been improving steadily in recent years and is now, without question, a world-class player.
"His talent, work ethic and attitude make him an extremely valuable player for New Zealand and a formidable opponent for everyone else. Winning this award reflects a magnificent contribution to our game during 2013.”
“I would like to congratulate those who were on a stellar shortlist. All thoroughly deserved their place and gave the panel a very difficult decision to make.”
New Zealand Rugby chairman Mike Eagle said: "This is fantastic recognition of a very special team. We are very proud of what Steve, Kieran and the team have achieved in 2013 as they have worked hard to be the best, and we congratulate them on these awards."
All Blacks coach Hansen said: "I’d like to congratulate Kieran on his award as it is well deserved.
"He has been outstanding and has been a major contributor all season.
"It’s been a big year and I am incredibly proud of what the boys have achieved. I thank them for their commitment and efforts throughout the year."
"It’s certainly special to have the All Blacks named for all three IRB awards, so it’s important that we thank and acknowledge all those behind the team because it wouldn’t happen without them - the players, our management, the other team behind us at New Zealand Rugby, All Blacks fans around the world, but most importantly, thanks to our families for the love and support that allows us to focus on this great game."
All three of these IRB Awards are selected by an independent panel of judges, with the rugby-loving public also given an opportunity to give their views.
The panel, chaired by Australia’s RWC 1999 winning captain John Eales, also comprises Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace.
The panel has deliberated on every major Test played in 2013, starting with the opening RBS Six Nations match and culminating with the November internationals.