Ireland's excellent year has been reflected in the World Rugby awards nominations, with both Josh van der Flier and Johnny Sexton nominated for World Player of the Year.
Head coach Andy Farrell has been nominated for World Rugby Coach of the year, whilst Mack Hansen and Dan Sheehan have been nominated for World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year.
It's safe to say 2022 has been one of the most successful years in Irish Rugby history. With just two defeats in the calendar year up to this point, Ireland have been playing some excellent rugby, culminating in a series win in New Zealand over the summer. You can also add a Triple Crown in the Six Nations and beating England in Twickenham for just the fifth time in 28 years to their list of accolades.
Most recently, World Champions South Africa were dispatched as they visited Dublin, with Ireland putting in a gutsy performance to see out the win.
Andy Farrell - World Rugby Coach of the Year
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has been nominated for World Rugby Coach of the Year alongside France's Fabien Galthie, New Zealand women's Wayne Smith and England women's Simon Middleton.
Farrell's Ireland team have been reformed in the second-half of this World Cup cycle, winning a series in New Zealand and defeating World Champions South Africa this year alone.
Farrell has revolutionised Irish Rugby since the departure of Joe Schmidt, and has developed Ireland's strength and depth hugely, whilst also adding layers to Ireland's game plan. Ireland are now multi-faceted, able to play heads-up rugby, whilst also showcasing their ability to dig in and rely on their physicality.
It has been a remarkable year for Irish Rugby, with Farrell's nomination completely justified.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) November 14, 2022
Josh van der Flier - World Rugby Player of the Year
Leinster and Ireland's Josh van der Flier has been nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year after having his best season to date. Van der Flier has scored four tries for Ireland this year alone, equal to the amount of tries he scored in the 4 years prior to 2022. Van der Flier stepped up when needed, scoring tries against France, New Zealand and South Africa.
The flanker has developed his ball carrying skills massively, constantly powering over the gain-line. This, added to his already impressive defensive performances, makes Van der Flier one of the best players in the world at the moment.
The Leinster man started all three tests against New Zealand and was instrumental to Ireland's success. He goes about his work quietly, and was Ireland's most consistent performer this year. His nomination is certainly justified.
— Autumn Nations Series (@autumnnations) November 5, 2022
Johnny Sexton - World Rugby Player of the Year
A winner of the award back in 2018, getting nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year at the age of 37 is a remarkable achievement for Johnny Sexton.
You certainly couldn't argue that he doesn't deserve it.
Captaining both Leinster and Ireland, he is the unquestioned leader in the team at both provincial and international level. Leading the test team to a series win in New Zealand is among his finest achievements to date, with there being few signs that he has lost any of his determination despite his advancing years.
Dan Sheehan - Breakthrough Player of the Year
Leinster and Ireland hooker Dan Sheehan has been nominated for Breakthrough Player of the Year after an incredible year. He has quickly become one of Ireland's most consistent and reliable performers on the biggest stages and is a serious prospect for the future.
Sheehan made his debut against France in the Six Nations, replacing the injured Ronan Kelleher in the 26th minute. With his Leinster teammate out though injury, Sheehan was given his first Ireland start in a Six Nations clash against Italy in February. He hasn't looked back since.
Since then, Sheehan has grown to become one of the best hookers in World Rugby at just 24 years old, starting all 3 test matches against New Zealand in the summer. He is a strong ball carrier and has some serious wheels. A fully fit Ronan Kelleher will find it hard to displace his Leinster teammate, as he has now become a guaranteed starter for Andy Farrell's squad
Would you like to see highlights of Dan Sheehan scoring four tries in a game of rugby?pic.twitter.com/jOrbWaSW4h
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) September 23, 2022
Mack Hansen - Breakthrough Player of the Year
Connacht's Mack Hansen is Ireland's second player to be nominated for Breakthrough Player of the Year, after bursting on the scene for Ireland in January against Wales. Hansen, born in Canberra, is Irish qualified through his Cork-born-mother and moved to Connacht in April 2021.
His form for Connacht in the early half of the season earned Hansen an Ireland call-up from Andy Farrell, before being included in the starting lineup against Wales in the Six Nations opener.
Since then, Hansen has consistently featured on the Irish wing, scoring a spectacular try against France, and most recently a brilliant score against South Africa.
Hansen's brilliant year has been rewarded by his nomination. Also nominated are England's Henry Arundell and Italy's Ange Capuozzo.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 14, 2022