Biarritz Olympique skipper Imanol Harinordoquy has been included among the six nominees for the 2010 IRB World Player of the Year title due to be announced next week.
The brilliant Basque No 8 helped France to win the Grand Slam in 2010 and also steered Biarritz Olympique into the Heineken Cup final against Toulouse in Paris.
The other nominees are the 2009 winner, Richie McCaw, his All Blacks team mate Mils Muliaina and new South African cap record holder Victor Matfield. The winner, along with the IRB Coach of the Year and IRB Team of the Year, will be announced on 1 December.
"The six players nominated have all enjoyed an exceptional year of international Rugby and have been judged on their performances in the RBS 6 Nations, Tri Nations, June and November Tests," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"It is an impressive shortlist. Richie McCaw has already made history as the first player to win the Award twice, while Imanol Harinordoquy, Victor Matfield and Mils Muliaina have consistently performed to highest standards over the years.
"It is also pleasing to see some of the brightest stars of the world Game in Kurtley Beale and David Pocock also nominated for their achievements during what has been a fascinating year"
IRB Player of the Year Award Winners
2009 - Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2008 - Shane Williams (Wales)
2007 - Bryan Habana (South Africa)
2006 - Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2005 - Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2004 - Schalk Burger (South Africa)
2003 - Jonny Wilkinson (England)
2002 - Fabien Galthie (France)
2001 - Keith Wood (Ireland)
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.