Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy and Serge Betsen of France have been nominated for the IRB's player of the year award.
D'Arcy made his international debut at 19 against Romania during the 1999 World Cup but quickly dropped off the radar after initially making a disappointing transition to Test rugby.
Conflict with Leinster's hierarchy almost saw him leave the game altogether but he knuckled down and was given his chance to shine.
And the 24-year-old proved an instrumental figure as Ireland landed their first Triple Crown since 1985 and was voted the outstanding player of the RBS 6 Nations.
French blindside flanker Serge Betsen was inspirational for France during their RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam triumph.
The back row man was unlucky to miss out on being nominated last year despite enjoying an excellent World Cup in Australia.
D'Arcy and Betsen are joined in the prestigious five-man list, announced by the IRB on Wednesday, by South African duo Schalk Burger and Marius Joubert and Australian centre Matt Giteau.
France's RBS 6 Nations efforts have also been rewarded by the short-listing of Bernard Laporte for coach of the year and their inclusion in the team of the year prize alongside South Africa and Portugal.
The team of the year award will be presented by Martin Johnson, who collected the same prize on behalf of England last year.
The winners of the 2004 awards will be announced at a gala dinner on November 28 at London's Royal Lancaster Hotel.
IRB player of the year: Serge Betsen (France); Schalk Burger (South Africa); Gordon D'Arcy (Ireland); Matt Giteau (Australia); Marius Joubert (South Africa).
IRB team of the year, in association with Sodexho: France; Portugal; South Africa.
IRB Coach of the Year: Bernard Laporte (France); Tomas Morais (Portugal); Gordon Tietjens (New Zealand Sevens); Jake White (South Africa)
IRB under-19 player of the year: Fabien Cibray (France); Jeremy Thrush (New Zealand); Mikaele Tuu'u (NZ)
IRB under-21 player of the year, in association with Waterford: Jamie Heaslip (Ireland); Jerome Kaino (New Zealand); Luke McAlister (New Zealand).