By Paul Osborne

Jonathon Sexton is one of five nominees for the IRB World Rugby Player of the Year award ©Getty ImagesThe International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced the five nominees for this year's World Rugby Player of the Year award, with the winner set to be revealed at their nation's final match of 2014.

The prestigious list comprises of South Africa's Willie le Roux and Duane Vermeulen, New Zealand's Brodie Retallick and Julian Savea, and Ireland's Jonathon Sexton following a review of 45 matches across the year.

"The IRB World Rugby Player of the Year is one of the most prestigious accolades in rugby and previous winners have all made a significant contribution to the international Game over the past decade, inspiring new generations of players and fans," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"All of these nominees have enjoyed stellar years and the focus on who will claim this accolade will add an extra dimension to the remaining November Tests."

The IRB World Rugby Player of the Year 2014 nominees were selected by the independent IRB Awards panel, chaired by Australia's Rugby World Cup 1999 winning captain John Eales.

The panel comprises of Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace and has deliberated on every major Test played in 2014, starting with the RBS Six Nations and culminating with the November internationals.

"As always the panellists' independent deliberations have produced a worthy list of contenders among a strong field," said Eales

"It has been a year where we have seen a levelling in competition with an unpredictability in so many games now.

"With a spread of a couple of outside backs, a fly-half, a back-rower and a lock in contention it is not going to be an easy selection to determine the Player of the Year."

Fans have been invited to cast their vote on social media with their results set to be considered by the panel when finalising the winner.

Players from New Zealand have won four of the last five awards with captain Richie McCaw winning in 2009 and 2010, Dan Carter in 2012, Kieran Read in 2013 while France's Thierry Dusautoir won the award in 2011.

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