New Zealand, eyeing professional rugby's first perfect year for a national team, could enjoy further success after Kieran Read and Ben Smith were nominated for the world player of the year award today.
The pair are joined by South Africa's Eben Etzebeth, Wales's Leigh Halfpenny and Italy's Sergio Parisse in the running for the International Rugby Board's annual prize, won last year by All Black flyhalf Dan Carter.
Number eight Read, 28, has been in dominating form as New Zealand look to cap a perfect 2013 with victory over Ireland on Monday (NZ time), while 27-year-old utility back Smith has started in all 13 Test victories to date this year, scoring 11 tries.
Fullback Halfpenny was named Six Nations player of the year after helping his country defend their title and won player of the series after the British and Irish Lions triumphed over Australia.
Number eight Parisse, who was also nominated in 2008, earned his 100th cap in Italy's victory over Fiji on Sunday (NZ time), while lock Etzebeth is playing in only his second season of international rugby.
The winner will be announced at the end of the November internationals.
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