A Six Nations Grand Slam, a first series victory in Australia for 39 years, an historic domestic double and now Johnny Sexton’s 2018 has got even better with a nomination for World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year.
The sole Six Nations representative on the five-man shortlist, Ireland star Sexton has been rewarded for an incredible year by being nominated for one of rugby’s most prestigious individual awards for a second time.
He joins All Blacks pair Beauden Barrett and Rieko Ioane and Springboks Faf de Klerk and Malcolm Marx on the shortlist and the winner will be announced at the World Rugby Awards in Monte Carlo on 25 November.
At 33, Sexton is the oldest nominee but has shown no signs of slowing down in a year that started with him nailing that dramatic drop goal in Paris to get Ireland’s Six Nations campaign off to a perfect start with a 15-13 triumph over France.
He then helped Joe Schmidt’s men to home victories over Italy, Wales and Scotland before slotting two conversions as the Grand Slam was sealed at Twickenham against England.
The fly-half then started the second and third Tests Down Under during Ireland’s summer tour, with his 16 and 15-point hauls proving pivotal in Ireland recovering from an opening-Test defeat to seal a first series victory over the Wallabies on their own turf for almost four decades.
Spliced between those two bits of national glory was a brilliant double in Leinster colours – as the Dublin-based side secured the Champions Cup and Guinness PRO14 titles – ensuring that Sexton earned a nomination for the second time, joining his 2014 nod.
He faces fierce competition from Barrett, Ioane, de Klerk and Marx but could join Keith Wood (2001) as the only Irishman to be named World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year, with Frenchman Thierry Dusautoir (2011) the last Six Nations star (and non-All Black) to win the award.
Sexton’s Ireland and Leinster team-mate Jordan Larmour is also in the running for Breakthrough Player of the Year.