Following the conclusion of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup pool stages, ERC, the governing body of European club rugby’s two tournaments, has published a list of the 15 outstanding players in this season’s tournaments.
The list includes Cole and Parling, who played a huge part in Sunday’s victory over Toulouse at Welford Road which secured top spot in Heineken Cup Pool 2 and a place in the quarter-finals.
ERC described Cole as a “central cog of the Tigers powerful forward force in the Pool stage having locked down the number 3 jersey in a very competitive squad. Completed 29/33 tackles in the campaign to date”.
Parling’s citation read: “Leicester Tigers have produced a number of half-decent second rows in their history, and Parling now fully deserves a mention among the best. Impressive organiser, strong line-out presence and an ever-present in the Heineken Cup this season. Took 34 lineout catches in the pool stages, more than any other player.”
The beginning of the search to select a successor to Leinster Rugby’s Rob Kearney, who won the ERC European Player of the Year award last season, was based on player performances during the pool stages of the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup.
The Judging Panel will have the option to consider additional players who make major contributions during the knockout stages of both tournaments before announcing a five-man shortlist following the semi-finals with the overall winner named directly after the ERC European club finals in Dublin next May.
In addition to 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 nominated on the ERC European Player of the Year 2013 shortlist while supporters can also have their say on Twitter using #ERCPlayer2013, and on the Heineken Cup Facebook pages
The Judging Panel for this season’s award is: Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports), Will Greenwood (Daily Telegraph, World Cup winner and two-time Challenge Cup winner), Stephen Jones (Rugby Correspondent, Sunday Times), Emmanuel Massicard (Editor, Midi Olympique) and Gerry Thornley (Rugby Correspondent, Irish Times).
ERC European Player of the Year 2013 Longlist
(based on performances in the pool stages)
Steffon Armitage (Toulon)
Rory Best (Ulster Rugby)
Julien Bonnaire (ASM Clermont Auvergne)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Wesley Fofana (ASM Clermont Auvergne)
Mamuka Gorgodze (Montpellier)
Charlie Hodgson ((Saracens)
James Johnston (Harlequins)
Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
Morgan Parra (ASM Clermont Auvergne)
Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)
Ruan Pienar (Ulster Rugby)
Simon Zebo (Munster Rugby)