In 2010, ERC, the governing body of Europe's two premier club rugby tournaments, launched the highly acclaimed ERC15 Awards, recognising the efforts of a number of outstanding contributors to the first decade and a half of European competition.
The inaugural recipient of the ERC European Player award, as the best player over the first 15 years of these tournaments, was Munster out-half Ronan O'Gara.
For the 2010/11 season, ERC will present a singular award to the best player of the season from both of its tournaments - the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup - selected by a panel of five experts and ratified by the captains and coaches of the 44 teams from the two competitions.
The selection panel comprised three members of last year's ERC15 Awards committee - Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports), Jean-Roger Delsaud (Midi Olympique) and Stephen Jones (Sunday Times). They were joined by current Heineken Cup ambassador Raphael Ibanez and Gerry Thornley from the Irish Times.
• Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)
• Isa Nacewa (Leinster)
• Sean O'Brien (Leinster)
• Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais)
• Soane Tonga'uiha (Northampton Saints)
The shortlist has been presented to the 44 teams for their views and the selection panel will reconvene in Cardiff, host city for the two European finals this week, to complete the selection process and confirm the winner of the ERC European Player of the Year award.
The winner will be announced next Monday (May 23) and a presentation will be made at his team's home venue.