Harinordoquy sole European nominee
France number eight Imanol Harinordoquy is the only player from the northern hemisphere to make the six-man shortlist for the International Rugby Board's Player of the Year award.
The Biarritz back-rower helped inspire Les Blues to a first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2004, scoring a try in the win over Italy, and he is joined on the list, selected by an independent panel chaired by former Australia captain John Eales, by five players from the Tri-Nations sides.
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, the current holder, is joined by team-mate Mils Muliaina just days after the pair overtook Sean Fitzpatrick's record of 92 caps for their country in the win over Ireland.
The outstanding young Wallaby duo of full-back Kurtley Beale and flanker David Pocock also make the list, as does South Africa second-row stalwart and record cap holder Victor Matfield.
"The IRB Player of the Year Award is the greatest individual honour presented annually in our game. The six players nominated have all enjoyed an exceptional year of international Rugby and have been judged on their performances in the RBS Six Nations, Tri-Nations, June and November Tests," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"It is an impressive shortlist. Richie McCaw has already made history as the first player to win the award twice, while Imanol Harinordoquy, Victor Matfield and Mils Muliaina have consistently performed to highest standards over the years."
"It is also pleasing to see some of the brightest stars of the world game in Kurtley Beale and David Pocock also nominated for their achievements during what has been a fascinating year, setting the scene for what promises to be a memorable Rugby World Cup 2011."
The winner will be announced on Wednesday, December 1, along with the coach of the year and team of the year winners.