Corry's on top of the world

Martin Corry has been named the Rugby World player of the year.

Martin Corry has been named the Rugby World player of the year.

Corry was rewarded for leading Leicester to their first Guinness Premiership and EDF Energy Cup double and for his "aptitude in adversity" at Test level.

The judging panel were impressed at Tigers skipper Corry's ability to produce huge individual performances in an England side which struggled for much of the season.

The former England captain beat off competition for the award from New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw, All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter and Argentina full-back Juan Martin Hernandez.

Alastair Hignell, the former England international and a member of the judging panel, said: "Martin deserves the award for his incredible consistency despite England's performances under his captaincy."

Richard Hill was named coach of the year for guiding Bristol, a club many had tipped for relegation, into the Premiership semi-finals and next season's Heineken Cup.

Rugby World editor Paul Morgan said: "It was a remarkable achievement.

"Richard deserves special praise in a season when we have seen some outstanding coaches."

Leicester's Pat Howard and Pierre Berbizier, who led Italy to their first away win in the Six Nations, were runners-up.

Wales fly-half James Hook was voted young player of the year after bursting onto the international scene with some brilliant performances, most notably against Australia in November and England during the RBS Six Nations.

The outstanding achievement award went to Argentina for their 25-18 victory over England at Twickenham in November.

The Rugby World Awards are the longest running in the game and the only ones to span the season from September to May and incorporate players and coaches from both hemispheres.

NNORTHAMPTON have signed South Africa loose forward Joe Van Niekerk as they bid to return to the Guinness Premiership.

The 27-year-old has agreed a three-year deal to join Saints from Cape Town-based Super 14 side The Stormers.

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