WALES full-back Leigh Halfpenny has been named the player of the RBS Six Nations championship after winning 40 per cent of the votes cast by more than 80,000 rugby fans, with Scotland’s Stuart Hogg third.
Halfpenny, one of a shortlist of 15 players compiled using a combination of match statistics and social media appearances, was a worthy winner after his consistent all-round performances helped Wales retain the title in their momentous last-day victory over England.
The 24-year-old Cardiff Blues back won two man-of-the-match awards, was the tournament’s top points scorer with 74 and is the favourite to fill the No 15 jersey on the British and Irish Lions’ tour of Australia this year.
“It’s a real honour and privilege and I’m overwhelmed to be in among the players shortlisted,” Halfpenny said in a statement. “It’s the icing on the cake of an exceptional year for Wales and it is a privilege to be part of such an exceptional group of people. For my name to be added to the list of players who have won this award in the past is incredible and extremely humbling.”
It is the second year in a row that a Welshman has taken the honours, following flanker Dan Lydiate’s success last season.
“Leigh is fearless, courageous and is one of the best full-backs in world rugby and he can be very proud of his performances throughout the championship,” said Wales interim coach Rob Howley. “He is a model professional in every facet of the game and I am delighted for him.”
Italy back rower Alessandro Zanni was second in the voting with 11 percent with Hogg on eight per cent.