MUNSTER captain CJ Stander last night scooped the Zurich IRUPA Players' Player of the Year after an outstanding season at both provincial and international level.
Twenty five-year-old Stander succeeds former provincial team-mate Paul O’Connell and saw off competition from Rory Best, Robbie Henshaw and Jack McGrath to scoop the prestigious award.
Stander said: “I’m delighted to win this award. Receiving recognition from my peers is the ultimate accolade.
“I will remember this season fondly, from winning my first cap, to scoring my first international try and ultimately winning this award.”
The South African born player has been a leading figure in an often disappointing season for Munster. His ultra-consistent provincial form saw Munster’s Player of the Year from 2015 earn a call-up to Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad.
Limerick-based Stander was named Man-of-the-Match on his Ireland debut against Wales in the 6 Nations Championship, while his rich vein of form continued for the remainder of the campaign, scoring his first international try against Italy.
The dynamic Stander has captained Munster this season in the absence of injured fellow back rower Peter O’Mahony.
Elsewhere, former Munster and Ireland out-half Ronan O’Gara was inducted into the BNY Mellon IRUPA Hall of Fame at the awards ceremony last night.
Leinster’s Josh Van der Flier was named the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year 2016.