Scotland scrum half Mike Blair, New Zealand fly half and 2005 IRB Player of the Year Dan Carter, Italy captain Sergio Parisse and Wales pair Shane Williams and Ryan Jones have been nominated for the most prestigious award in world rugby.
"The IRB Player of the Year Award is the ultimate accolade for a player and takes into account performances in all the major internationals played during the year including the RBS Six Nations, Tri Nations and the June-July Tests," said International Rugby Board Chairman, Bernard Lapasset.
"The list of past winners of this coveted award is impressive and reads like a who's who of the international Game in recent years. Jonny Wilkinson, Schalk Burger, Richie McCaw, Fabien Galthié, Dan Carter, Bryan Habana and Keith Wood were all worthy recipients of the award, while Carter would be the first player to win twice should he be selected," added Lapasset.
The nominees were selected by the Awards' independent panel of judges, comprising former internationals with over 500 Test caps between them. The panel, which also votes on the IRB Team and Coach of the Year during the same period, has deliberated over every major Test this year.
Tana Umaga, Raphaël Ibanez, Will Greenwood, Francois Pienaar, Agustin Pichot, Gavin Hastings, Scott Quinnell, Paul Wallace and convenor John Eales watched over 47 hours of action from 35 matches, awarding points to the three players they thought stood out in each match.
"Now that the shortlist has been selected the panel will reconvene during the November Tests when the IRB Player of the Year will be selected. The announcement will be made at the IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline in London on November 23, which is the most prestigious annual celebration of the international game," added Lapasset.