It's a proud moment to get the recognition
A proud Kieran Read says he’s humbled to join an elite group of players to have earned the game’s richest praise - being named the International Rugby Board (IRB) Player of the Year.
"It's awesome. I think it's a pretty massive honour to get an award like this, all the players who have won it are greats of the game. So certainly it's pretty humbling," Read told Read told Yahoo Sport in one of several interviews after he scooped the prestigious award on Tuesday.
The All Black No.8 enjoyed a sublime season during which he captained the world champions on a number of occasions, scored six tries and created many more with his impressive offloading ability.
The 28-year-old beat Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth, Wales and British and Irish Lions fullback Leigh Halfpenny, Azzurri skipper Sergio Parisse and All Black teammate Ben Smith to the gong.
He said the honour of captaining the All Blacks and love of the famous black jersey inspire him to continually strive to improve.
"It's fun playing rugby for the All Blacks ... that's what we've always done this for," Read said on Radio Live Sport.
"It's a proud moment to get the recognition [of the award]. It was a great year for the All Blacks and it makes me feel really proud.
"Awards are just part and parcel of what you do on the pitch.
"Getting the opportunity to captain the ABs was awesome. I think that gives you confidence when you are out there on the field to lead and really play as best you can."
After becoming only the third New Zealander behind teammates Richie McCaw and Dan Carter to win the award, Read has established himself as one of the greatest eighthmen in history.
All Black mentor Steve Hanson, who won the Coach of the Year award for the second consecutive season, said Read was “up there in their company” when it comes to greats Brian Lochore, Wayne Shelford and Zinzan Brooke.
"Everyone has their own personality and their own way they play," Read said on Live Sport.
"To be compared [to them] is awesome."
Read, who said he learned he had won the award in a text, said he’s looking forward to a break after returning from Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he conducted coaching clinics.
"It was a real eye-opener ... we had coaching clinics, including one with under-privileged kids. It was cool trying to touch a football-mad nation. That brings you back down to earth ... that captured me a little bit."
Read added that the All Blacks, who scooped the Team of the Year award for the fourth straight year after recording the first perfect season in the professional era, will aim to become even better in 2014.
"You look at it, we have to improve. Over the times I've been here, if you stood still, teams will catch up. There are always improvements in this game to be made.
“It's hard ... the coaches will have a lot of time on their hands to try and create something new, but the basis of what we have done this year will hold us in pretty good stead."