Welsh-based Ben Morgan and Gethin Jenkins have made the shortlist for the ERC European Player of the Year 2012 award.
Blues prop Jenkins and Scarlets No 8 Morgan have an opportunity to further enhance their chances of taking the crown from last year's winner Sean O'Brien when playing in their respective Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup games this weekend.
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.
A shortlist of five 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
As the countdown continues for RWC2015, Tournament Chief Executive Debbie Jevans visited the Millennium Stadium to discuss preparations for the eight matches and reveal the positive news that 100,000 tickets for games at the home of Welsh rugby have sold in the last seven days.
Jason Harries is targeting a first win on the World Series circuit this season with Wales. The series returns to action this weekend in Dubai where Harries is part of a team hoping to build from its efforts in round one in October.
Wales skipper Jevon Groves says his side have addressed a few points from Gold Coast and aim to 'hit the ground running' in the next two rounds of the World Series, kicking off with this weekend in Dubai before heading off to South Africa next week.
Wales Sevens manager Steff Thomas is hopeful his side can build from a quarter-final spot in the opening round of the World Series in Australia when his side take part in the forthcoming double header in Dubai and South Africa.