Fijian favourite Semi Radradra is going head to head with Scottish duo Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg, England’s Sam Simmonds and Virimi Vakatawa of France after Bristol Bears, Racing 92 and Exeter were all represented on the shortlist for the 2020 EPCR European player of the year award.

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Fifteen initial nominees were trimmed to five based on the combined verdict of a panel of rugby experts and a public vote, and the final five includes four players whose performances were vital in taking their clubs through to the Heineken Champions Cup final at Ashton Gate next month. 

Exeter are represented by Simmonds, the leading try scorer in this season’s tournament, as well as Hogg, whose Scotland colleague Russell makes it onto the list for Racing alongside his clubmate Vakatawa. The Top 14 club are looking for a second accolade in three years as Leone Nakarawa, their former second row, won in 2018.

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Former All Blacks back row Jerome Kaino talks about Cheslin Kolbe, his Toulouse teammate

The selection of Radradra, meanwhile, comes on the back of a stellar series of performances in the European Challenge Cup, initially for Bordeaux during the pool stage and more recently for finalists Bristol. His presence on the shortlist is unusual in the sense that players in the Challenge Cup don’t often get this type of recognition.

Voting has now reopened on epcrugby.com/epoty and the winner and recipient of the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy will be announced following the Heineken Champions Cup final in Bristol on October 17.

EPCR European Player of the Year shortlist

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STUART HOGG (Exeter Chiefs)
SEMI RADRADRA (Bristol Bears/Bordeaux)
FINN RUSSELL (Racing 92)
SAM SIMMONDS (Exeter Chiefs)
VIRIMI VAKATAWA (Racing 92)

Judging panel

Erik Bonneval (beIN SPORTS), Bryan Habana (Channel 4), Emmanuel Massicard (Midi Olympique), Sonja McLaughlan (BBC Radio 5 Live), Brian O’Driscoll (BT Sport), Alan Quinlan (Virgin Media), Dimitri Yachvili (France Télévisions)

Roll of Honour

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2019: Alex Goode (Saracens)
2018: Leone Nakarawa (Racing)
2017: Owen Farrell (Saracens)
2016: Maro Itoje (Saracens)
2015: Nick Abendanon (Clermont)
2014: Steffon Armitage (Toulon)
2013: Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)
2012: Rob Kearney (Leinster)
2011: Sean O’Brien (Leinster)
2010: Ronan O’Gara (Munster – best player of first 15 years of European club rugby)

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