Premiership trio up for award

  • Last Updated: April 24 2014, 14:06 BST

Aviva Premiership stars Miles Benjamin, Alex Goode and George North have all been included on the longlist for the European Player of the Year award.

Jonny Wilkinson: Picked up the award last season
Jonny Wilkinson: Picked up the award last season

Former England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, who picked up the award last season, has again been nominated as he looks to guide Toulon to back-to-back Heineken Cup crowns.

Wilkinson's team-mates Steffon Armitage and Matt Giteau are also on the list, while there are five nominees from the RaboDirect Pro12.

Munster duo Paul O'Connell and Peter O'Mahony, Leinster's Sean Cronin and Cian Healy and Ulster ace Ruan Pienaar are in contention for the coveted award.

Goode will line-up for Saracens against fellow nominees Sitiveni Sivivatu and Fritz Lee in Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final at Twickenham.

O'Connell and O'Mahoney will take on the Toulon trio of Wilkinson, Armitage and Giteau at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille in the other last-four clash on Sunday.

A five-man judging panel, which includes Sky Sports pundit Stuart Barnes, will trim the list of candidates to five following the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup.

An ERC statement read: "The search to select a successor to 2013 winner, Wilkinson, who guided the French club to an historic first Heineken Cup success last season, was based on player performances during the pool stages of the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup.

"The Judging Panel also have the option to consider additional players who make major contributions during the quarter-finals and semi-finals of both tournaments before announcing a five-man shortlist following this weekend's matches with the winner named directly after next month's Cardiff 2014 finals.

"In tandem with the decision of the panel, the 44 clubs in the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup will have the opportunity to vote for contenders on the ERC European Player of the Year 2014 shortlist.

"Supporters can also have their say on Twitter using #ERCPlayer2014, and on the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup Facebook pages."

ERC European Player of the Year 2014 longlist:

Steffon Armitage (Toulon)

Miles Benjamin (Leicester Tigers)

Sean Cronin (Leinster Rugby)

Jean-Marc Doussain (Toulouse)

Matt Giteau (Toulon)

Alex Goode (Saracens)

Cian Healy (Leinster Rugby)

Fritz Lee (ASM Clermont Auvergne)

George North (Northampton Saints)

Paul O'Connell (Munster Rugby)

Peter O'Mahony (Munster Rugby)

Louis Picamoles (Toulouse)

Ruan Pienaar (Ulster Rugby)

Sitiveni Sivivatu (ASM Clermont Auvergne)

Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)