Former All Black Victor Vito and ex-Blues player Isa Nacewa have made a shortlist of 15 players nominated for European Player of the Year, an award no Kiwi has ever won.

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Vito ,who plies his trade with Top 14 champions La Rochelle, joined the side after his career in New Zealand ended with a Super Rugby title with the Hurricanes. He won Top 14’s player of the year award last season in France, and will be looking to add European’s top player to his achievements.

Nacewa has been invaluable for Leinster as a utility back, filling in multiple roles for the side when needed. The 35-year-old is defying father time providing ageless performances for the Irish club.

The two former New Zealand based players will be up against world-class competition in Owen Farrell (Saracens), Connor Murray (Munster), and Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92) amongst others.

The shortlist will be narrowed to five following the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup in April and the winner will be 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).

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