Fullback Willie Le Roux and number 8 Duane Vermeulen were unsurprisingly included among three other players for world rugby’s prestigious award.
The other candidates are Irish flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, New Zealand lock Brodie Retalick and wing Julian Savea, who is also the favourite to walk away with the accolade.
The winner will be revealed at his team’s final match of the season at the ongoing Autumn Internationals.
“All 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,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
In support of the initial nomination process, fans now have the chance to have their say on the shortlist via social media. The results of the public vote will be considered by the panel when finalising the winner.
Previous winners include Kieran Red, Dan Carter, Thierry Dusautoir, Shane Williams, Bryan Habana, Schalk Burger, Jonny Wilkinson, and Richie McCaw.