WALES full-back Leigh Halfpenny has been beaten to the title of IRB player of the year by New Zealand number eight Kieran Read, writes Chris Kirwan.

Halfpenny was nominated for the prestigious award after being named Six Nations player of the tournament and booting the British and Irish Lions to glory in Australia, scooping man of the series in the process.

But it is hard to argue with the decision to give the IRB accolade to inspirational back row forward Read.

The 28-year-old was a key figure in the All Blacks going through 2013 with a perfect record and he becomes the third New Zealander to win the award after teammates Richie McCaw and Dan Carter.

Read is a fearsome competitors at the breakdown, contributes to the set piece and is stunning in the loose, running with power and showing the handling skills of a back.

His success made it a New Zealand hat-trick after the All Blacks took the team honour and Steve Hansen was named coach of the year for the second year on the spin.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The IRB player, coach and team awards bring the international Rugby year to a close and what a year it has been for New Zealand.

“They seem to reach new levels of excellence every year and although some managed to push them very close, they were clearly the stand-out team of the year.

"I would like to congratulate those who were on a stellar shortlist. All thoroughly deserved their place and gave the panel a very difficult decision to make."

Italy number eight Sergio Parisse, South Africa lock Eben Etzebeth and New Zealand wing Ben Smith were also nominated.

Previous winners of the IRB Player of the Year Award: 2012 Dan Carter (New Zealand), 2011 Thierry Dusautoir (France), 2010 Richie McCaw (New Zealand), 2009 Richie McCaw (New Zealand), 2008 Shane Williams (Wales), 2007 Bryan Habana (South Africa), 2006 Richie McCaw (New Zealand), 2005 Dan Carter (New Zealand), 2004 Schalk Burger (South Africa), 2003 Jonny Wilkinson (England), 2002 Fabien Galthié (France), 2001 Keith Wood (Ireland)