Pienaar in line for top award

Ulster scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar has been included on the longlist for the ERC European Player of the Year award.

The nominees for one of the most prized accolades in the game include 15 outstanding players from the 44 clubs competing in this season's European and European Challenge Cup tournaments.

The search to select a successor to the Toulon captain Jonny Wilkinson, who guided the French club to a historic first European Cup success last season, was based on performances during the pool stages of the European and Challenge Cup competitions.

Ulster's prolific points-scorer, Pienaar, who made the longlist last season and in 2012, and Steffon Armitage of Toulon, who was also nominated last season, are included again along with Wilkinson.

The judging panel will also have the option to consider additional players who make major contributions during the knockout stages of both tournaments before announcing a five-man shortlist following the semi-finals with the overall winner named directly after the ERC European club finals in Cardiff in May.

In addition to the decision of the panel, the 44 clubs will have the opportunity to vote for contenders nominated on the Player of the Year shortlist while supporters can also have their say on Twitter using #ERCPlayer2014, and on the European and European Cup Facebook pages.

ERC European Player of the Year 2014 longlist:

Steffon Armitage (Toulon)
Miles Benjamin (Leicester Tigers)
Sean Cronin (Leinster)
Jean-Marc Doussain (Toulouse)
Matt Giteau (Toulon)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Cian Healy (Leinster)
Fritz Lee (ASM Clermont Auvergne)
George North (Northampton Saints)
Paul O'Connell (Munster)
Peter O'Mahony (Munster)
Louis Picamoles (Toulouse)
Ruan Pienaar (Ulster)
Sitiveni Sivivatu (Clermont Auvergne)
Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)

Photo: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Post by

Jon Cardinelli