Four Irish players make SportsJOE's team of the year
Ireland fly-half and 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year Johnny Sexton has been excluded from the SportsJOE world team of the year.
New Zealand counterpart Beauden Barrett was ultimately preferred to the Leinster out-half with over 175,000 votes cast on the RugbyJOE Instagram page.
Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, Peter O'Mahony and Conor Murray were the only Irish players to make the side with Ireland trailing New Zealand (6) for the most selections.
Damian McKenzie, Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock and Barrett all selected from the All Blacks while Australian duo Michael Hooper and David Pocock were also selected.
Meanwhile World Rugby player of the year nominee and South African hooker Malcolm Marx, England co-captain Owen Farrell and Wales outside centre Jonathan Davies also made the cut.
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Despite his omission above, Sexton has still enjoyed a phenomenal year winning Six Nations and Grand Slam titles with Ireland, as well as PRO14 and Heineken Champions Cup honours with Leinster, but he admits that Ireland will now have to grow accustomed to being tagged as favourites in the future.
“It’s been an incredible year for Irish rugby, to win everything we could, really,” Sexton said at the World Rugby awards ceremony in Monte-Carlo last month.
“It’s been very special, and a few of us have ended up here tonight. There are areas we’ve definitely highlighted to improve, which will be important in a World Cup year.
“Teams try to peak for World Cup years. People ask have we peaked too soon? Well we haven’t peaked, so we’re just getting better and hopefully we can continue to do that.
“You have to improve ahead of the general curve. We know everyone else is going to get better.
“We’ll be going into a lot of games now as favourites after what’s happened this year, so that will be a challenge for us. We’ve got to deal with being favourites and I’m sure we can do that.”