29th November 2009
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw described himself as "extremely proud" after being named the International Rugby Board player of the year for 2009.
It is the second time the openside flanker has received the accolade following his success in 2006.
"It is a huge honour. I am extremely proud. I am just happy to be part of a team doing well," the 28-year-old said following New Zealand's 39-12 win against France in Marseille.
"I am happy to do my bit, but it is a great honour. I've said it before, you can't do it without a bunch of mates. It has been a trying year at times, but it is great to be part of a winning team."
All Blacks Head Coach Graham Henry was quick to offer his congratulations to his skipper.
"On behalf of the All Blacks players and management, we congratulate Richie on receiving this award.
"He is the leader of our team, shows a huge amount of character and commitment both on and off the field and is truly deserving of this honour."
McCaw fought off stiff competition from Ireland's Jamie Heaslip and Brian O'Driscoll, South Africa's Fourie du Preez and Frans Steyn, Australia's Matt Giteau and England's Tom Croft.