McCaw, Carter shortlisted for player of the year
Carter or McCaw to be player of the year?
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is in contention to win the IRB Player of the Year award for a fourth time after being included in a four-man shortlist for the 2012 prize.
All Blacks first five-eighth Dan Carter also made the cut, along with two surprises - backup England No 10 Owen Farrell and another first five-eighth, the rejuvenated Frederic Michalak of France.
McCaw is the only player to have received the accolade more than once in its 11-year history, having won in 2006, 2009 and 2010. Carter won the award in 2005.
McCaw is the most capped All Black, with 115 tests and 19 tries, and this year became the first player to win 100 tests and the most as captain.
He will take a six-month sabbatical from the game in 2013.
International Rugby Board chairman Bernard Lapasset said it had been a difficult choice to select only four candidates.
"As ever, the competition has been fierce and the panel had a tough time deliberating the shortlist from a number of stand-out candidates," Lapasse said.
"All four players on the shortlist thoroughly deserve their place after standout performances during the year and consistency in the tough environment that is test rugby."
The winner will be announced on December 3, along with the IRB Coach of the Year and IRB Team of the Year.
For the third year in a row, the shortlist includes a player who has graduated from the IRB Junior World Championship to the test arena, with Farrell following in the footsteps of Australian trio David Pocock, Will Genia and Kurtley Beale.
Farrell, 21, made his England debut as first five-eighth in the opening Six Nations match against Scotland at Murrayfield and played in the test series loss in South Africa.
Farrell is the son of former England dual-code international Andy Farrell, now an assistant coach of the national team.
Michalak was recalled to the national team after more than two years by coach Philippe Saint-Andre for the June tour to Argentina.
Michalak has been the architect of Les Bleus' run of four consecutive victories over Argentina (twice), Australia and Samoa, which have secured them a top-four seeding spot in the IRB world rankings for the 2015 World Cup.
That means they will avoid the top three southern hemisphere teams in the pool stage.