The panel selecting the shortlist is made up of former players Sue Day (England), Melodie Robinson (New Zealand) and Fiona Coghlan (Ireland) as well as Sunday Times rugby correspondent Stephen Jones and World Rugby Council member John Jeffrey.
“Women’s rugby is one of the fastest growing team sports in the world, and we’re focused on building on the incredible success of last year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup in Paris which engaged fans like never before.”
World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “On behalf of World Rugby, I wish to extend my congratulations to Gaëlle, Kendra and Sophie for securing their player-of-the-year nomination, and for their skill, power, discipline and consistency required to excel at the highest level.
Second-row forward Spence was a key figure as the Irish won their second Women’s Six Nations title in three years, starting all five games of the championship.
Ireland’s Sophie Spence, seen here tackling England’s Emily Scarratt during Women’s Rugby World Cup, has been nominated for the 2015 player-of-the-year award