South Africa's Bryan Habana and Victor Matfield will go head-to-head with All Blacks trio Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Tana Umaga for the IRB Player of the Year award.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) confirmed the aforementioned players today as the nominees for this year's IRB Awards ceremony, which will be held at the Pavillon d'Armenonville in Paris's Allie de Longchamps on Sunday, November 27.
The gala event rewards the highest achievements in the game from the end of the 2004 Autumn internationals until 2005's Autumn tests, and also honours outstanding past contributions to rugby.
2004 Player of the Year Schalk Burger will be hoping either Habana or Matfield can see the blue riband award remain in South Africa.
Tri-Nations champions and Lions' conquerors New Zealand and and Six Nations champions Wales have been shortlisted for Team of the year honour, with the two teams' respective coaches Graham Henry and Mike Ruddock singled out as the two final candidates for the Coach of the year trophy.
Former Munster, Ireland and Lions hooker and captain Keith Wood, the IRB's inaugural Player of the Year back in 2001, is a member of the Awards' independent panel of judges. Former internationals Francois Pineaar, Michael Jones, Fabien Galthie, the 2002 winner, Gavin Hastings, Jonathan Davies, Dan Lyle and Federico Mendez and convenor John Eales made up the panel.
Other nominated categories are as follows:
Under-19 Player of the Year - Isaia Toeava (New Zealand), Alistair Hargreaves (South Africa), Mahlatse Ralepelle (South Africa)
Under-21 Player of the Year -
Tatufu Polota-Nau (Australia), Derick Kuun (South Africa), Thabang Molefe (South Africa)
Sevens Player of the Year - Orene Ai'i (New Zealand), Amasio Valence (New Zealand), Neumi Nanuku (Fiji)
Other Award categories include:
Sevens Team of the Year, Referee award for Distinguished Service, Vernon Pugh award for Distinguished Service, IRB Development award, Spirit of Rugby award, Women's Personality of the Year award