IRISH rugby captain Niamh Briggs is backing Sophie Spence to win the 2015 World Rugby Player of the Year Award.
Spence attended yesterday’s World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia in London and will today attend the World Rugby Awards at Battersea Evolution.
If the Leinster second row does win, Spence will be the first Irish player since Keith Wood in 2001 to win a World Player of the Year award.
SPENCE A DESERVING WINNER
“Sophie’s had a fantastic year and I really think she’s going to win it – she deserves it!” said Briggs.
“It would be brilliant if she does, not only as a reflection of her as an individual, but as a reflection of us as squad, primarily because it shows where Ireland is on the international stage and to have players as good as Sophie nominated individually at this level is incredible.
“She’s worked really hard and has had to come back from a couple of big injuries during her career and I’m delighted for her. I’ll eagerly be following the awards on Twitter to see how it goes!” Briggs added.
Newcastle-born Spence – whose mother hails from Lisburn – was nominated given her solid performances in Ireland’s 2015-winning Six Nations campaign, and the 28-year-old’s performances for coach Tom Tierney catapulted her into the international limelight.
MIGNOT AND COCKSEDGE UP AGAINST SPENCE
Spence has been nominated alongside French captain Gaëlle Mignot and New Zealand scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge, but Briggs believes Spence has proved herself a worthy winner.
“Mignot is obviously a fantastic leader for France and Cocksedge is a very big player for New Zealand, but Spence has been superb for us this season. She’s really come into her own in terms of her ball carrying and she’s been phenomenal. I think we’ll definitely have to celebrate with some form of cake in camp next week if she does,” Briggs added, ahead of their autumn test against England on November 14 at Twickenham Stoop (3pm).
Spence will join the male World Rugby Player of the Year nominees Dan Carter of New Zealand, Michael Hooper of Australia, Alun Wyn Jones of Wales, Greig Laidlaw of Scotland, David Pocock of Australia and Julian Savea of New Zealand at the awards.