No New Zealander has ever won the European Player of the Year award but Victor Vito and Isa Nacewa are in line to do just that.

Former All Black Vito joined French Top 14 club La Rochelle after capturing a maiden Super Rugby title with the Hurricanes. The loose forward was named Top 14 player of the year last year, and could now add the European gong to his accolades.

Nacewa, the former Blues utility and mental skills coach, has been in superb touch for Leinster. Since coming out of retirement the 35-year-old has filled multiple positions for the Irish club.

It is far from a lay down misère, however.


Vito and Nacewa are up against world-class competition in the form of Owen Farrell (Saracens), Conor Murray (Munster) and Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92) among others.

The shortlist will be narrowed to five following the semifinals of the European Champions Cup in April, with the winner announced after the final on May 12.

European rugby's player of the year nominees for 2018:

Tadhg Beirne (Scarlets, Wales), Levani Botia (La Rochelle, France), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Scott Fardy (Leinster Rugby, Ireland), Owen Farrell (Saracens, England), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby), Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland), Isa Nacewa (Leinster Rugby), Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92, France), Morgan Parra (ASM Clermont Auvergne, France), Dany Priso (La Rochelle), Alivereti Raka (ASM Clermont Auvergne), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster Rugby), Josua Tuisova (RC Toulon, France), Victor Vito (La Rochelle).