All Blacks reign supreme again at IRB awards

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 08:41 04/12/2013
Kieran Read
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BEST IN THE WORLD: All Blacks No 8 Kieran Read is getting more and more used to the respect he's commanding in world rugby.

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World domination complete.

The All Blacks have swept the IRB's 2013 rugby awards for the second year running.

Damaging No 8 Kieran Read has headed off British and Irish Lions fullback Leigh Halfpenny for the major gong as player of the year.

All Black head coach Steve Hansen has been named coach of the year for a second year running, and the All Blacks have undeniably been named the best team after their unbeaten season.

Read's selection may be debated in Wales where Halfpenny's efforts during Wales' defence of their Six Nations title then for the British and Irish Lions in Australia have become the stuff of legend.

However, the truth is the Canterbury No 8's influence on the world game was impossible to ignore.

The 28-year-old's feats were well ahead of the other nominees, Italian loose forward Sergio Parisse, South African lock Eben Etzebeth and fellow All Black, wing Ben Smith.

Read ran, passed and ferociously tackled his way through 13 tests without being subbed. He missed just one match, against Japan, and was the All Black captain on six occasions.

The All Blacks have now won the IRB's player of the year award in four of the past five years, with Dan Carter given the accolade in 2012.

Only French captain Thierry Dusautoir in 2011 has broken the New Zealand run since Richie McCaw won the award in 2009 and 2010.

Hansen may take more pleasure from the team of the year award than his own recognition after guiding his side to 14 test wins in a row.

It was the All Blacks fourth straight year as the world's best team, but perhaps their most satisfying considering their prefect season.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said it was a great year to be an All Blacks fan.

"Kieran deserves particular acknowledgement for the remarkable season he has put in both on and off the field. The fact this is Steve's second straight coach of the year award is also significant and deserves our congratulations.

"These awards are a reflection of the effort and commitment the All Blacks have shown in 2013 to be the best in the world."

It is not inconceivable that Read, Hansen and the All Blacks will repeat their clean sweep at the New Zealand Rugby Awards in Auckland tomorrow, with all three nominated in their respective categories.

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