New Zealand fly-half Daniel Carter, a previous winner, headed up a five-man shortlist announced in London on Monday for the International Rugby Board (IRB) player of the year award.
Also included, when the list was revealed at the launch of the IRB World Rugby Yearbook 2007, were All Black captain Richie McCaw, Australia full-back Chris Latham and South Africa scrum-half Fourie du Preez, who won his domestic player of the year title last week.
Ireland lock Paul O'Connell is the only northern hemisphere player in contention for this year's award, which will be presented during a ceremony in Glasgow on Nov. 26.
"The IRB Player of the Year award is the ultimate accolade for a player to receive and rewards the highest achiever in the game over the past twelve months. The award takes into account the Test calendar from January to November 2006 and includes the Six Nations Championship, Tri-Nations Series and the June Tests," IRB chairman Syd Millar said.
"The list of past winners of this prestigious award reads like a who's who in the game with Schalk Burger, current nominee Dan Carter, Jonny Wilkinson, Fabien Galthie and Keith Wood all receiving the top prize," Millar added.
The nominees were considered by the awards' independent panel of judges, made up of former internationals with 503 caps between them -- Francois Pienaar, Michael Jones, Galthie, Wood, Gavin Hastings, Jonathan Davies, Dan Lyle and Federico Mendez and convener John Eales.
The panel, who also vote on the IRB coach and team of the year during the same period, will select the player of the year after the completion of the November Test schedule.
Both Carter and Latham enhanced their credentials last weekend.