Munster and Ireland lock Paul O'Connell is one of five players in the running for the International Rugby Board's Player of the Year award.
The other players nominated for the gong, which will be handed out at a ceremony in Glasgow on Sunday, November 26, are New Zealand out-half and previous winner Dan Carter, Australian full-back Chris Latham, New Zealand flanker and captain Richie McCaw and South African scrum half Fourie du Preez.
O'Connell's nomination is a significant achievement as he is the only Northern Hemisphere player included.
The Limerick man, who turned 27 last month, has had a 2006 to remember and it could get even better with the upcoming Guinness Autumn Test Series at Lansdowne Road.
He was a inspirational figure in driving Munster to their first Heineken Cup title, scoring three tries in five appearances in last season's tournament. Some stunning performances in Ireland's second row saw him help the men in green to their second Triple Crown in three years and all this after missing last November's internationals due to a hand injury.
O'Connell was recently named the Player of the Year at the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Awards.
The IRB's Chairman Dr. Syd Millar, who won 37 caps in Ireland's front row, said: "The IRB Player of the Year award is the ultimate accolade for a player to receive and rewards the highest achiever in the game over the past twelve months. This award takes into account the Test calendar from January to November 2006 and includes the RBS 6 Nations, the Tri-Nations Series and the June Tests.
"The list of past winners of this prestigious award reads like a who's who in the game with Schalk Burger, current nominee Dan Carter, Jonny Wilkinson, Fabien Galthie and Keith Wood all receiving the top prize."
O'Connell's former Munster and Ireland team-mate Wood, who won the inaugural award in 2001, is part of the Awards' independent panel of judges, made up of former internationals with 503 caps between them - Francois Pienaar, Michael Jones, Fabien Galthie, Wood, Gavin Hastings, Jonathan Davies, Dan Lyle and Federico Mendez and convener John Eales.
O'Connell's current Ireland colleague Gordon D'Arcy was nominated for the award in 2004 but lost out to South African Burger.
The panel will select the IRB Player of the Year after the completion of the November Test schedule.
The IRB Awards ceremony takes place on November 26 at Glasgow's historic Kelvingrove Art Gallery.