All Black captain Richie McCaw is in line to defend his 2006 IRB Player of the Year title as he was selected among five nominees for this year's award.
The 26-year-old flanker is the only New Zealander nominated and also the solitary forward in a group consisting almost exclusively of Southern Hemisphere players.
He will battle it out against Argentinean utility backs Juan Martin Hernandez and Felipe Contepomi, South African winger Bryan Habana and French centre Yannick Jauzion, who scored the decisive try in his side's 20-18 victory over the All Blacks on Saturday.
The award is based on player performances during the calendar year, starting with the 6 Nations Championship and finishing at the World Cup.
The winner will be announced at an IRB awards ceremony on October 21, the day after the World Cup final.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has been nominated for the International Rugby Board Player of the Year Award, it was confirmed last night. McCaw, who won the title last year, is on the shortlist with Argentinian centre Felipe Contepomi, South African wing Bryan Habana, French centre Yannick Jauzion, and Argentinian first five eighth Juan Hernandez.
The IRB unveiled the shortlist at a media conference in Paris at the Main Media Centre, following the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals. The IRB Awards ceremony will take place in Paris on October 21.
IRB chairman Syd Millar said the award was the "ultimate accolade" for a player to receive in his career.
"It takes on added significance in a Rugby World Cup year and takes into account player performances in all major internationals including matches in the RBS Six Nations Championship, Tri-Nations Series, the June International Series and of course the tournament," Dr Millar said.
"The list of past winners of this prestigious award is very impressive and comprises players of the calibre of Schalk Burger, Dan Carter, Jonny Wilkinson, Richie McCaw, Fabien Galthie and Keith Wood.".
The nominees were selected by an independent panel of judges, made up of former internationals with over 500 caps between them. The panel, which also votes on the IRB Coach and Team of the Year during the same period, has deliberated on every major Test match played this year starting with the first 6 Nations match and finishing with the Rugby World Cup final.
Francois Pienaar, Michael Jones, Fabien Galthie, Keith Wood, Gavin Hastings, Will Greenwood, Jonathan Davies, Dan Lyle, Federico Mendez and convener John Eales have watched over 80 matches between them, awarding points to three players in every match.
The award winner will be determined immediately after the Rugby World Cup final, Dr Millar said. The IRB Player of the Year is one of 12 categories of awards that include the IRB Coach of the Year, IRB Team of the Year, IRB Sevens Player of the Year, IRB Sevens Team of the Year and IRB Women's Personality of the Year.