Players from seven clubs and all three European professional leagues are among the 15 nominees for the prestigious EPCR European Player of the Year award.
Last season’s winner, Leone Nakarawa, who played a key role in Racing 92’s qualification for the Champions Cup quarter-finals, is nominated once again along with his team-mates, Finn Russell and Simon Zebo, while number one ranked, Saracens, have two representatives in Alex Goode and Mako Vunipola following their 100% record in another impressive pool stage performance.
Toulouse, who will face Racing 92 in an intriguing all-French quarter-final at the end of March, have Antoine Dupont and the livewire, Cheslin Kolbe, in the list, and not surprisingly, Edinburgh‘s Viliame Mata is included on the back of several outstanding displays during the pool stage.
Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong and Garry Ringrose are nominated from Champions Cup holders, Leinster, while Ulster‘s try-scoring machine, Jacob Stockdale, also gets the vote of the expert panel of judges. Munster are able to match Leinster’s representation with Tadhg Beirne, Joey Carbery and club captain Peter O’Mahony featuring in the star-studded longlist.
The winner of one of the most prized individual accolades in the world game will receive a specially struck gold medal as well as the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy.
Voting for the award is now open via this link and fans will be in the running to win two VIP tickets to the Champions Cup final in Newcastle next May with one night’s accommodation courtesy of EPCR, and a signed jersey of one of the Champions Cup finalist clubs.
The list will be reduced to five players in April following the Champions Cup semi-finals by a combination of the public vote and the verdict of the judges, and players who have not been included in initial list of 15, but who make a significant impact in a quarter-final or semi-final match, can be considered for the shortlist.
The voting will then be reopened and the winner of the 2019 award will be announced following the Heineken Champions Cup final at St James’ Park on Saturday, 11 May.
EPCR European Player of the Year award 2019 nominees:
Tadhg Beirne (Munster)
Joey Carbery (Munster)
Sean Cronin (Leinster)
Antoine Dupont (Toulouse)
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse)
Viliame Mata (Edinburgh)
Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92)
Peter O’Mahony (Munster)
Garry Ringrose (Leinster)
Finn Russell (Racing 92)
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
Simon Zebo (Racing 92)
2018/19 judging panel: Bryan Habana (Channel 4), Chris Jones (BBC Radio 5 Live), Matthieu Lartot (France Télévisions), Emmanuel Massicard (Midi Olympique), Brian O’Driscoll (BT Sport), Dimitri Yachvili (beIN Sports).
Roll of Honour:
2018: Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92)
2017: Owen Farrell (Saracens)
2016: Maro Itoje (Saracens)
2015: Nick Abendanon (Clermont)
2014: Steffon Armitage (Toulon)
2013: Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)
2012: Rob Kearney (Leinster)
2011: Sean O’Brien (Leinster)
2010: Ronan O’Gara (Munster)