Ireland dominate a list of five nominees in contention to be named The Rugby Union Writers’ Club personality of the year for 2018.
The Grand Slam champions are well represented following an outstanding 12 months in which they won 11 out of 12 Tests, including an historic victory over New Zealand on home soil in November.
Head coach Joe Schmidt is competing with fly-half Johnny Sexton and tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong to win the prestigious award, currently held by England’s Owen Farrell.
Continuing the Irish theme is the inclusion of Stuart Lancaster for his outstanding work in helping guide Leinster to a fourth European title after Racing 92 were toppled in the Champions Cup final in May.
Also present among the leading contenders is South Africa flanker Siya Kolisi, who became the first black player to captain the Springboks’ Test team and celebrated the occasion by overseeing a 2-1 series victory against England in June.
The winner will be announced at the annual dinner of the RUWC in London next Monday evening.
Legends whose names appear on the winners’ trophy include Bill Beaumont Gareth Edwards, Jonah Lomu, David Campese, Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Brian O’Driscoll and Dan Carter.