Rugby Union

Irish duo on 12-man shortlist for Six Nations player of the championship

Cahair O'Kane and PA reporters

CONOR Murray and CJ Stander have been named on the 12-man shortlist for this season’s RBS 6 Nations player of the championship.

Ireland scrum-half Murray, who missed Saturday’s win over England through injury, underlined his Lions credentials with a superb spring, carrying on his autumn form.

South African-born Stander has been a revelation in the back row since a man of the match performance in his Six Nations debut last year, with his ball-carrying ability and breakdown work setting him apart.

The Irish duo are nominated alongside three members of England's title-winning.

Centre Owen Farrell, lock Joe Launchbury and flanker Maro Itoje have made the 12-strong group.

Players in every Six Nations match were awarded or deducted points based upon several different performance categories which cover all aspects of the game, with former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett also involved in drawing up the shortlist.

Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg, who won the award last season, again features, being joined by his Scotland colleague Finn Russell, while Wales also have two representatives in scrum-half Rhys Webb and hooker Ken Owens, with France pair Louis Picamoles and Camille Lopez also being nominated.

Scrum-half Conor Murray and flanker CJ Stander fly the flag for Ireland, with the list being completed by Italy captain Sergio Parisse.

Public voting is now open to decide the winner, closing at midday on Tuesday.

The award has been dominated by Irish players since it was launched in 2004, with Brian O'Driscoll taking top honours three times, while the only previous English recipient was full-back Mike Brown in 2014.

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