England wing Chris Ashton tops a list of three Saracens players to have been nominated for European player of the year for 2014.
The London club, who reached the Heineken Cup final with a stunning 46-6 victory over Clermont on Saturday, dominate the five-strong shortlist announced by European Rugby Cup.
Free-running hooker Schalk Brits and hardman flanker Jacques Burger are also included, while 2013 winner Jonny Wilkinson of Toulon features among the names in what is almost certainly his final season.
Toulon – Saracens’ opponents in the final at the Millennium Stadium on May 24 – also supply Steffon Armitage to complete the line-up that was chosen by media representatives from a long list of 15.
Ashton has a strong chance of winning the award after scoring a record-breaking 11 tries in this season’s Heineken Cup, including two apiece against heavyweights Ulster and Clermont, as he closes in on an England recall.
Burger’s remarkable defensive performance against Clermont alone propels him into contention.
Armitage has been superb for Toulon to the point where England’s policy of only picking players at overseas clubs in exceptional circumstances is being fully tested.
The 2014 winner will be announced shortly after next month’s final in Cardiff.
© Copyright PA Sport 2014, All Rights Reserved