Toulouse back-row Jerome Kaino didn’t feature for the four-time European champions in the pool stages, but has proven his worth in the knockout stage and is a worthy EPCR European Player of the Year nominee.
The former All Black returned to feature against Munster Rugby in the Round of 16, helping Toulouse to a dramatic 40-33 victory at Thomond Park with a power-packed performance and proved just as important in a tight quarter-final clash the following weekend.
Toulouse edged out ASM Clermont Auvergne 21-12, proving that the free-flowing French outfit can come out on top in close matches, something Kaino was keen to point out last month.
And he continued his excellent form in his side’s comfortable semi-final success over Bordeaux-Begles, setting up a clash with fellow French outfit La Rochelle in the showpiece final next weekend.
The winner of one of the most prized individual accolades in the world game will receive a specially-struck gold medal as well as the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy.
Voting for the award, which is in its 11th season, is now open HERE and those fans who take part will be in the running to win a signed ball and a signed jersey of one of the Heineken Champions Cup finalist clubs.
The winner of the 2021 award will be announced following the Heineken Champions Cup final on Saturday, 22 May.
EPCR European Player of the Year 2021 award nominees:
Grégory ALLDRITT (La Rochelle)
Antoine DUPONT (Toulouse)
Jerome KAINO (Toulouse)
Julien MARCHAND (Toulouse)
Will SKELTON (La Rochelle)
Judging Panel – Erik Bonneval (beIN SPORTS), Bryan Habana (Channel 4), Sonja McLaughlan (BBC Radio 5 Live), Alan Quinlan (Virgin Media), Dimitri Yachvili (France Télévisions)
Roll of Honour – 2020: Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs); 2019: Alex Goode (Saracens); 2018: Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92); 2017: Owen Farrell (Saracens); 2016: Maro Itoje (Saracens); 2015: Nick Abendanon (ASM Clermont Auvergne); 2014: Steffon Armitage (RC Toulon); 2013: Jonny Wilkinson (RC Toulon); 2012: Rob Kearney (Leinster Rugby); 2011: Sean O’Brien (Leinster Rugby); 2010: Ronan O’Gara (Munster Rugby – best player of first 15 years of European professional club competitions)