With 16 clubs now chasing the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup, ERC, the governing body of European club rugby’s two tournaments, is beginning the search for the outstanding player who will follow in the footsteps of Sean O’Brien and become the ERC European Player of the Year 2012.
While the initial longlist recognises the performances from the Pool stages only, the Judging Panel will have the option to consider players who make outstanding contributions in the quarter-final and semi-final matches for their shortlist and final selection.
The Judging Panel for this season’s accolade is made up of: Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports), Raphael Ibanez (Heineken Cup Ambassador), Stephen Jones (Sunday Times), Emmanuel Massicard (Midi Olympique) and Gerry Thornley (Irish Times).
A shortlist of 5 players will be announced following the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup semi-finals (27/28/29 April) and the ERC European Player of the Year winner for 2012 will be selected after the London Finals Weekend of 18/19 May.
Longlist of contenders for the ERC European Player of Year 2012 based on Pool stage performances:
Mouritz Botha Lock Saracens
Mike Brown Full Back Harlequins
Antoine Claassen Back Row Brive
Thierry Dusautoir Back Row Toulouse
Owen Farrell Centre Saracens
Stephen Ferris Back Row Ulster Rugby
Wesley Fofana Centre ASM Clermont Auvergne
Gethin Jenkins Prop Cardiff Blues
Johnny Sexton Out half Leinster Rugby
Greig Laidlaw Scrum half/Out half Edinburgh Rugby
Timoci Matanavou Wing Toulouse
Ignacio Mieres Out half Exeter Chiefs
Ben Morgan No 8 Scarlets
Ronan O’Gara Out half Munster Rugby
Netani Talei No 8 Edinburgh Rugby
Do you agree with the list? Are there some players who have been unlucky to miss out? Let us know.