Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny has been named the RBS 6 Nations player of the Championship securing an impressive 40% of the public’s vote.

Over 80,000 people voted to have their say, which was more than three times the number in 2012.

For the first time ever, the 15-man shortlist was decided through a mixture of technical statistics and fan sentiment on social media, producing a shortlist more representative of public opinion.

Alessandro Zanni came in second with 11% of the vote, he was followed by Scotland’s Stuart Hogg with 8%.

Halfpenny scored a staggering 74 points for Wales during a total of 400 minutes of play as the nation secured their fourth RBS 6 Nations title in nine years.

Leigh Halfpenny commented: “I can't thank the people who voted for me enough.

"It's a real honour and privilege to be voted RBS 6 Nations Player of the Championship and I'm overwhelmed to be in amongst the players shortlisted.

"It's the icing on the cake of an exceptional year for Wales, and it's a privilege to be part of such an exceptional group of people.

"For my name to be added to the list of players who have won this award in the past is incredible and extremely humbling.”

Technical statistics, and crucially, social media sentiment were calculated via a custom algorithm created by RBS with the help of Accenture - the official Technology Partner of the RBS 6 Nations.

The formula combines social listening technology on the social forums of the web, Facebook, Twitter and blogs, to gauge positive public opinion, along with official Opta match statistics to give fans more influence than ever before.