No room in rugby awards for PRO12's best Irish player 3 years ago

No room in rugby awards for PRO12's best Irish player

What a difference a year makes for Connacht.

This time last season, Pat Lam's men were preparing for the final league game of the season against Glasgow Warriors. They won that, beat Warriors in the semi finals and did for Leinster in the final.

Connacht players such as Matt Healy, John Muldoon, Tiernan O'Halloran, Jake Heenan and Ultan Dillane all had stand-out seasons but few were complaining when CJ Stander won Players' Player of the Year.

This time out, Stander is nominated along with Conor Murray, Robbie Henshaw and Tadhg Furlong. There is a sense that the quartet's international exploits may have tipped the balance as there is no room for the best Irish player in this season's Guinness PRO12.

Connacht are on course for an eighth place finish after failing to cope with a Champions Cup campaign, player departures and a wincing injury list. They should still be okay for a Champions Cup playoff spot but only because Edinburgh, Dragons and the two Italian sides have been so poor.

It has been a bad season for Connacht, as a whole. For O'Halloran, it has been a season to remember.

The fullback has been, by far, the league's most dangerous and consistent performer. He has played 24 times for Connacht and started all but one game.

In the PRO12, he has made 280 carries for 1,942 metres gained. Indeed, during the Champions Cup pool stages, O'Halloran also topped the charts for carries and metres gained.

Added to his five tries and three assists, this season, he has also slotted over a conversion and nailed a crucial drop goal. When he got his chance for Ireland, against Canada, he scored two tries but there was no getting past Rob Kearney and then Jared Payne in the Six Nations.

It is easy to see why Ireland's professional rugby players have opted to reward the players that defeated the likes of New Zealand, Australia, France and England over the past seven months but it would have been nice to see O'Halloran's scintillating league form rewarded.

Perhaps that will come with a summer tour call-up for Ireland.

RUGBY PLAYERS IRELAND PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster)
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster)
Conor Murray (Munster)
CJ Stander (Munster)

YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Joey Carbery (Leinster)
Garry Ringrose (Leinster)
Darren Sweetnam (Munster)

SUPPORTERS' PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster)
Robbie HenshawLeinster)
Paddy Jackson (Ulster)
John Muldoon (Connacht)
Conor Murray (Munster)
Tiernan O'Halloran (Connacht)
Charles Piutau (Ulster)
CJ Stander (Munster)