Leinster duo Cian Healy and Sean Cronin, along with the Munster pair of Peter O’Mahony and Paul O’Connell, are among the 15 in the hunt for the award following the completion of the pool stages.
Sean O’Brien and Rob Kearney were named the first two winners while Jonny Wilkinson, who is again nominated, won the award following his role in Toulon’s Heineken Cup-winning campaign last year.
Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar has also been included, for the third year in-a-row. A five-man shortlist will be decided upon after the European semi-finals with the winner named after the Heineken Cup final in Cardiff in May.
Meanwhile, the Six Nations Council had what it described as “a constructive meeting” yesterday and reaffirmed its aim to find a “Six Nations solution for European Rugby” to the impasse over the governance and formation of continental club competitions next season.
Steffon Armitage (Toulon), Miles Benjamin (Leicester), Sean Cronin (Leinster), Jean-Marc Doussain (Toulouse), Matt Giteau (Toulon), Alex Goode (Saracens), Cian Healy (Leinster), Fritz Lee (ASM Clermont Auvergne), George North (Northampton), Paul O’Connell (Munster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster), Sitiveni Sivivatu (ASM Clermont Auvergne), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon).