As the finals weekend of the European club rugby season fast approaches, ERC have named a shortlist of five players who are in contention for the northern hemisphere's most prestigious individual accolade, ERC European Player of the Year 2012.
South African scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar has been outstanding for Ulster this season and is a contender along with his teammate Stephen Ferris.
Leinster are the other finalists and provide two more candidates for the award in flyhalf Jonathan Sexton and fullback Rob Kearney.
The final man in the running for the award is English flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson, who was fantastic for Toulon in this year's competition.
The search for this season's winner began in earnest following the pool campaigns in both tournaments and the panel was presented with an initial longlist of 15 contenders - which included Ferris, Pienaar and Sexton - as a starting point for the selection process.
Once the knockout stages got underway, the panel was able to consider players who had made major individual contributions in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup, and following stand-out performances for their respective clubs, Kearney and Wilkinson in particular, emerged as candidates.
Stephen Ferris (Ulster)
Rob Kearney (Leinster)
Ruan Pienaar (Ulster)
Jonathan Sexton (Leinster )
Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)
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