The initial shortlist for the EPCR European Player of the Year 2020 award has been announced, with Leinster, Racing 92 and Exeter Chiefs all picking up three nominations after their strong starts to the Heinken Champions Cup season.

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A total of 15 players make up the list of nominees, with the list set to be reduced to a shortlist of five players in early May, following the Champions Cup semi-finals.

However, there is not a single player included in the list from reigning Champions Cup holders Saracens.

The English club finished second to Racing in Pool 4 despite the fallout of their 35 point penalty and subsequent reduction from the Premiership as a result of salary cap breaches.

Saracens are due to take on Leinster in the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Leinster, who head into the Champions Cup knock-out stages as the top ranked side having topped Pool 1 with a 100% record, have Tadhg Furlong, Jordan Larmour and Garry Ringrose all nominated.

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Finn Russell, Teddy Thomas and Virimi Vakatawa all feature for Racing, while Exeter see Luke Cowan-Dickie, Stuart Hogg and Sam Simmonds make the cut.

Toulouse have two player nominated, with Jerome Kaino and Romain Ntamack both selected, while Ulster pair Marcell Coetzee and John Cooney are also included following the province’s impressive showing in Pool 3.

ASM Clermont Auvergne centre, George Moala, is also nominated while Semi Radradra completes the list on behalf of Challenge Cup quarter-finalists Bordeaux-Bègles.

Players who have not made the 15-man list can still be considered for the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy should they make ‘a significant impact’ across the knock-out stages.

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Public voting for the award is now open here, and supporters can win two VIP tickets to the Heineken Champions Cup final in Marseille along with one night’s accommodation, along with a signed jersey from one of the Champions Cup finalist clubs.

The list will be reduced to five players by a combination of the public vote and the verdict of a select panel of judges, which includes former international stars Erik Bonneval, Bryan Habana, Brian O’Driscoll, Alan Quinlan and Dimitri Yachvili.

The winner of the 2020 award will be announced following the Heineken Champions Cup final at the Stade Vélodrome, Marseille on Saturday, 23 May.

EPCR European Player of the Year 2020 award nominees:

Marcell COETZEE (Ulster Rugby)
John COONEY 
(Ulster Rugby)
Luke COWAN-DICKIE 
(Exeter Chiefs)
Tadhg FURLONG 
(Leinster Rugby)
Stuart HOGG 
(Exeter Chiefs)
Jerome KAINO (Toulouse)
Jordan LARMOUR (Leinster Rugby)
George MOALA 
(ASM Clermont Auvergne)
Romain NTAMACK (Toulouse)
Semi RADRADRA 
(Bordeaux-Bègles)
Garry RINGROSE (Leinster Rugby)
Finn RUSSELL 
(Racing 92)
Sam SIMMONDS 
(Exeter Chiefs)
Teddy THOMAS 
(Racing 92)
Virimi VAKATAWA 
(Racing 92)

Watch: Brumbies fullback Tom Banks interview

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