CAPE TOWN – Springboks Damian De Allende and Lood de Jager were rewarded for their good form at the Rugby World Cup when both earned two nominations in the annual SA Rugby Player-of-the-Year Awards.
Meanwhile, Warrick Gelant, Seabelo Senatla, Warren Whiteley and Jaco Kriel each received nominations in more than one category in ‘breakthrough’ years for several players.
The full list of nominees was released by the South African Rugby Union (Saru) on Thursday with a number of other young stars playing their way into contention.
Junior Springbok star Gelant was nominated in three categories – along with dynamic Golden Lions flanker Kriel – while Blitzboks speedster Senatla received two nominations, as did Whiteley, to join De Allende and De Jager among the top performers of 2015.
The Xerox Golden Lions were rewarded for a great season with a host of different nominations. As well as Kriel and Whiteley, their coach, Johan Ackermann, was also nominated and the union’s Absa Currie Cup side was named as one of three contenders for team of the year.
De Allende and De Jager will be up against Kriel, two-time winner Schalk Burger and former Young Player-of-the-Year Eben Etzebeth for the top award, the SA Rugby Player-of-the-Year.
Kriel was also nominated in the categories for Vodacom Super Rugby and Absa Currie Cup Premier Division Player-of-the-Year.
De Allende and Whiteley are the other two nominees for Vodacom Super Rugby Player-of-the-Year, while De Jager is one of the five Absa Young Players-of-the-Year, along with Gelant, Senatla, Jesse Kriel and Handré Pollard.
The exciting Gelant was nominated in the categories for Absa Currie Cup Premier Division and SA Under-20 Player-of-the-Year, where he is up against Junior Springbok enforcers Hanro Liebenberg and Jason Jenkins.
The Golden Lions, who went through the entire Absa Currie Cup Premier Division season unbeaten, are one of five sides nominated by the country’s media as Absa Team-of-the-Year, and will face opposition from the Springbok Sevens, Springboks, DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province.
Ackermann faces competition from Blitzboks coach Neil Powell and Robert du Preez of the Absa Currie Cup First Division winners, the Leopards, and NWU-Pukke to determine who will be the Absa Coach-of-the-Year.
The three nominees in the category of Vodacom Cup Player-of-the-Year are Wiaan Liebenberg (Vodacom Blue Bulls), JC Roos (Steval Pumas) and Marnus Schoeman (Steval Pumas), while the Absa Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year will be one of Leighton Eksteen (SWD Eagles), Juan Language (Leopards) or Rhyno Smith (Leopards).
South Africa’s rugby-loving public will be able to have their say for the SA Rugby Player, Absa Young Player and Absa Team-of-the-Year-Awards, which will be conducted online at www.springbokmagazine.com from December 11 until January 8.
The winners will be announced in the New Year.
The nominations for 2015 (in alphabetical order):
SA Rugby Player-of-the-Year: 1. Schalk Burger, 2. Damian De Allende, 3. Lood de Jager, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Jaco Kriel
Absa Young Player-of-the-Year: 1. Lood de Jager, 2. Warrick Gelant, 3. Jesse Kriel, 4. Handré Pollard, 5. Seabelo Senatla
Absa Team-of-the-Year: 1. Xerox Golden Lions (Absa Currie Cup), 2. Springboks, 3 Springbok Sevens, 4. DHL Stormers (Vodacom Super Rugby), 5. DHL Western Province (Absa Currie Cup)
Absa Coach-of-the-Year: 1. Johann Ackermann (Xerox Golden Lions), 2. Neil Powell (Springbok Sevens), 3. Robert du Preez (NWU-Pukke, Leopards)
SA Under-20 Player-of-the-Year: 1. Warrick Gelant, 2. Jason Jenkins, 3. Hanro Liebenberg
SA Sevens Player-of-the-Year: 1. Werner Kok, 2. Seabelo Senatla. 3. Kwagga Smith
Vodacom Super-Rugby-Player-of-Year: 1. Damian De Allende (DHL Stormers), 2. Jaco Kriel (Emirates Lions), 3. Warren Whiteley (Emirates Lions)
Vodacom Cup-Player-of-the-Year: 1. Wiaan Liebenberg (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 2. JC Roos (Steval Pumas), 3. Marnus Schoeman (Steval Pumas)
Absa Currie Cup Premier Division-Player-of-the-Year: 1. Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 2. Jaco Kriel (Xerox Golden Lions), 3. Warren Whiteley (Xerox Golden Lions)
Absa Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year: 1. Leighton Eksteen (SWD Eagles), 2. Juan Language (Leopards), 3. Rhyno Smith (Leopards)
Other awards that will be presented are in the categories of My Players Players’ Player-of-the-Year; Supersport Try of the Year; Coca-Cola Craven Week Player-of-the-Year; Marriott Referee Award; Women’s Achiever Award; and Cell C Community Cup Player of the Tournament.
– Africa News Agency