Fullback Israel Folau has been named Australian rugby union's best player by his peers for a record third time after a stand-out international season.

Folau, who is set to go on a sabbatical after Australia's clash with the Barbarians on Saturday, comfortably outpolled fellow Wallabies Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley to win the John Eales Medal.

It was the NSW Waratah's third accolade in the five seasons he has been playing rugby union since making the switch from league.

"I'm never satisfied, it's always about the team and how we can improve and move forward and get better," he said after the awards ceremony on Thursday evening.

Folau scooped 260 votes from fellow players, ahead of Beale (166), Foley (146), and Michael Hooper (142).

No other player has won three times, with just George Smith, Nathan Sharpe and Hooper winning twice.

Beale said he was honoured to be recognised, after a sensational season since returning from England.

"For me it’s been special to receive this award and be recognised by the guys that you go out with and play alongside, that’s something that I’m very humbled by and you can’t really describe it with words," he said.