A wide array of players were nominated in the various categories of the SA Rugby Player of the Year Awards, and Curwin Bosch, Ruan Combrinck, Seabelo Senatla and Warren Whiteley, were nominated in two categories each, the list of nominees still has a distinct Golden Lions flavour to it.
Six players from the Golden Lions – Combrinck, Whiteley, Jaco Kriel, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Malcolm Marx and Elton Jantjies – were nominated, while Vodacom Super Rugby runners-up, the Emirates Lions, made the top three in the Team of the Year category and Johan Ackermann has been nominated as Coach of the Year for a fourth consecutive year.
Ackermann, who steered the Emirates Lions to their first Vodacom Super Rugby final, will face strong opposition from Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell, who has also been short-listed for the fourth year in a row, and Boland’s Brent Janse van Rensburg in the category for Coach of the Year.
Combrink, Kriel and Whiteley will come up against the DHL Stormers lock duo of Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth to determine who walks away with the award for SA Rugby Player of the Year on the night of Monday, 24 October, when the awards ceremony takes place at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg.Marx and Janse van Rensburg are up against Curwin Bosch, RG Snyman and Seabelo Senatla in the category for Young Player of the Year, while the Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Tournament will be Combrinck, Whiteley or Jantjies.
To cap off a fine season for the team from Johannesburg, they are contenders for Team of the Year, along with the Olympic bronze medal-winning Springbok Sevens and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, who went unbeaten through the pool phase of the Currie Cup Premier Division.
Two emerging backline stars for the Springbok Sevens team and the Junior Springboks, Senatla and Bosch, raked in two nominations each. They are up against Kyle Brown and Rosko Specman (Springbok Sevens Player of the Year), and Manie Libbok and Jeremy Ward (Junior Springbok Player of the Year) respectively.
The six nominations in the two Currie Cup categories are testimony to the fact that new talent annually emerges through these competitions. In the Premier Division, Nico Lee and Ox Nche from the Toyota Free State Cheetahs are up against DHL WP’s Huw Jones.
George Whitehead, who was a key figure in the Down Touch Griffons’ victory in the First Division Final last weekend, is up against Border’s Masixole Banda and Johan Deysel from the Leopards.
The list of nominees in the various categories were determined after an extensive voting process, which included members of the media, sponsors, the provinces and SA Rugby’s Rugby Department.
The nominees are (in alphabetical order):
SA Rugby Player of the Year:
1. Ruan Combrinck
2. Pieter-Steph du Toit
3. Eben Etzebeth
4. Jaco Kriel
5. Warren Whiteley
Young Player of the Year:
1. Curwin Bosch
2. Rohan Janse van Rensburg
3. Malcolm Marx
4. Seabelo Senatla
5. RG Snyman
Team of the Year:
1. Emirates Lions (Vodacom Super Rugby)
2. Springbok Sevens
3. Toyota Free State Cheetahs (Currie Cup Premier Division)
Coach of the Year:
1. Johann Ackermann (Emirates Lions, Xerox Golden Lions)
2. Brent Janse van Rensburg (Boland)
3. Neil Powell (Springbok Sevens)
Junior Springbok Player of the Year:
1. Curwin Bosch
2. Manie Libbok
3. Jeremy Ward
SA Sevens Player of the Year:
1. Kyle Brown
2. Seabelo Senatla
3. Rosko Specman
Vodacom Super Rugby Player of Year:
1. Ruan Combrinck (Emirates Lions)
2. Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions)
3. Warren Whiteley (Emirates Lions)
Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year:
1. Huw Jones (DHL Western Province)
2. Nico Lee (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
3. Ox Nche (Toyota Free State Cheetahs)
Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year:
1. Masixole Banda (Border)
2. Johan Deysel (Leopards)
3. George Whitehead (Griffons)
Other awards that will be presented are in the categories of Players’ Player of the Year presented by MyPlayers, Supersport Try of the Year, Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Year, Outsurance Referee Award, Springbok Women’s Achiever Award and Best Development Programme. The Club Player of the Year will be awarded after the Gold Cup final.