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Stars set to grace semifinal stage

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:20
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Drawn from European Cup and Challenge Cup
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A number of star performers who are set to grace this weekend's Cup semifinals are included in the longlist for the ERC European Player of the Year.
 
Alex Goode of Saracens and the Clermont duo of Sitiveni Sivivatu and Fritz Lee are expected to figure in Saturday's European Cup last-four contest at Twickenham Stadium.
 
Toulon's Jonny Wilkinson, Steffon Armitage and Matt Giteau will come up against Munster legend Paul O'Connell at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille on Sunday.
 
In addition, another nominee from the pool stages, George North of Northampton Saints, will start on the left wing in Fridays Challenge Cup semifinal against Harlequins.
 
The search to select a successor to 2013 winner, Wilkinson, who guided the French club to an historic first European Cup success last season, was based on player performances during the pool stages of the two competitions.
 
The judging panel also have the option to consider additional players who make major contributions during the quarter-finals and semifinals of both tournaments before announcing a five-man shortlist.
 
Following this weekend's matches the winner will be named directly after next month's Cardiff 2014 finals.
 
European Player of the Year 2014 longlist:Steffon Armitage (Toulon), Miles Benjamin (Leicester Tigers), Sean Cronin (Leinster Rugby), Jean-Marc Doussain (Toulouse), Matt Giteau (Toulon), Alex Goode (Saracens), Cian Healy (Leinster Rugby), Fritz Lee (Clermont Auvergne), George North (Northampton Saints), Paul O'Connell (Munster Rugby), Peter O'Mahony (Munster Rugby), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster Rugby), Sitiveni Sivivatu (Clermont Auvergne), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon).
  
Previous winners: Ronan O'Gara (Munster Rugby); Sean O'Brien (Leinster Rugby) 2011; Rob Kearney (Leinster Rugby) 2012; Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon) 2013.
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