Ahead of the high-profile semi-final matches in the European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, EPCR in conjunction with one of its Official Partners, Turkish Airlines, has announced the list of contenders for the European Player of the Year 2016 award.
This year's winner will follow in the footsteps of luminaries such as Jonny Wilkinson, Sean O'Brien and Nick Abendanon, 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 2015/16 season to date.
The 2014 winner, Steffon Armitage of RC Toulon, is nominated once again, while other nominees include Racing 92's Dan Carter, France captain, Guilhem Guirado also of Toulon, four players from Saracens, and the highly-rated Jack Clifford who has starred for Harlequins in their Challenge Cup run to Friday's semi-final clash with Grenoble.
Wasps, who take on Saracens in the Champions Cup semi-final on Saturday, have three representatives, Toulon and Racing two apiece, while Racing's semi-final opponents, Leicester Tigers, have one player on the list, as do Exeter Chiefs, Northampton Saints and Harlequins.
This season, fans of European club rugby will be able to have a major say in the outcome, and from today (Wednesday, 20 April), online voting for the award winner will open on the following platform:
By casting their votes and by sharing their choices on Facebook, fans will also be in the running to win valuable prizes courtesy of Turkish Airlines and EPCR.
The EPCR European Player of the Year 2016 will be announced in Lyon during next month's EPCR finals weekend.
EPCR European Player of the Year 2016 list presented by Turkish Airlines
Steffon Armitage (RC Toulon)
Dan Carter (Racing 92)
Jack Clifford (Harlequins)
Elliot Daly (Wasps)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers)
Guilhem Guirado (RC Toulon)
Juan Imhoff (Racing 92)
Maro Itoje (Saracens)
George Kruis (Saracens)
George North (Northampton Saints)
Charles Piutau (Wasps)
George Smith (Wasps)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
Judging Panel: Emmanuel Massicard (Editor, Midi Olympique), Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports/The Sunday Times), Mick Cleary (Rugby Correspondent, The Daily Telegraph), Matthieu Lartot (France Televisions), 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