With the high-profile quarter-final matches in the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup less than a fortnight away, we have the shortlist of the European Rugby Player of the Year 2017.
This season’s winner will follow in the footsteps of world-class talents such as Sean O’Brien, Jonny Wilkinson and Maro Itoje, and will also receive one million air miles courtesy of Turkish Airlines.
Selected by a distinguished panel of rugby experts, the list for one of the most prized individual accolades in the world game includes 15 players who have performed outstandingly during the 2016/17 season to date.
Itoje, who won last year’s award following a series of magnificent displays as Saracens stormed to a first Champions Cup title, is nominated again along with teammate Owen Farrell while Wasps’ Elliot Daly is also included for a second season in a row.
There are first-time nominations for the Munster Rugby trio of Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray and CJ Stander, while Leinster Rugby have matched that number with Tadhg Furlong, Isa Nacewa and Garry Ringrose making the list.
Wasps also have three players as Joe Launchbury and Thomas Young join Daly, and there are nominations for the ASM Clermont Auvergne duo, Camille Lopez and Noa Nakaitaci, as well as Jonny Gray and Stuart Hogg of Glasgow Warriors.
Once again, fans of European club rugby will be able to have a major say in the outcome in tandem with the judging panel, and from Monday, 3 April online voting for the award winner will open on epcrugby.com
Votes can also be cast on the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup Facebook pages, and fans who make their choices will be in the running to win valuable prizes courtesy of Turkish Airlines and EPCR.
The initial voting phase will conclude following the semi-final matches when the list of players will be reduced to five on Monday, 24 April. The EPCR European Player of the Year 2017 will be announced during the EPCR finals weekend in Edinburgh in May.
EPCR European Player of the Year 2017 list presented by Turkish Airlines:
Tyler Bleyendaal (Munster Rugby)
Elliot Daly (Wasps)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby)
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors)
Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors)
Maro Itoje (Saracens)
Joe Launchbury (Wasps)
Camille Lopez (ASM Clermont Auvergne)
Conor Murray (Munster Rugby)
Isa Nacewa (Leinster Rugby)
Noa Nakaitaci (ASM Clermont Auvergne)
Garry Ringrose (Leinster Rugby)
CJ Stander (Munster Rugby)
Thomas Young (Wasps)
Judging Panel: Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports/The Sunday Times), Mick Cleary (Rugby Correspondent, The Daily Telegraph), Matthieu Lartot (France Télévisions), Emmanuel Massicard (Editor, Midi Olympique), Andy Nicol (BBC Sport), Brian O’Driscoll (BT Sport), Dimitri Yachvili (beIN Sports)
Previous winners: Ronan O’Gara (Munster Rugby – best player of first 15 years of European club rugby tournaments); Sean O’Brien (Leinster Rugby) 2011; Rob Kearney (Leinster Rugby) 2012; Jonny Wilkinson (RC Toulon) 2013; Steffon Armitage (RC Toulon) 2014; Nick Abendanon (ASM Clermont Auvergne) 2015; Maro Itoje (Saracens) 2016