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Nominees for South Africa's Player of the Year revealed

NEWS: Five members of the World Cup-winning Springbok squad in France were nominated for the SA Rugby Player of the Year Award for 2023.

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They are Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe and Damian Willemse.

SA Rugby announced the nominees – as voted for by members of the media and key stakeholders within the governing body – in nine categories on Tuesday. The winners will be named early next year, along with the Referee of the Year and the Provincial Women’s Player of the Year.

Etzebeth, who was crowned the best last year, will face stern competition from Kolisi and Du Toit, the winners of the Player of the Year Awards in 2021 and 2019 respectively, as well as Bok scrum anchor Malherbe and Willemse, a previous nominee in the category for Young Player of the Year and winner of the Youth Weeks Player of the Year Award in 2016.

Four of the five nominees for the Young Player of the Year Award were also on the shortlist last year, when Canan Moodie beat off the challenges of Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Jaden Hendrikse and Evan Roos. This year, Ruan Venter has also been nominated.

Ricardo Duarttee, who was named Rookie of the Year Award at the annual World Rugby Sevens Series Awards, is up against Christie Grobbelaar and Shilton van Wyk for the Springbok Sevens Men’s Player of the Year Award.

And the three nominees for the Junior Springbok Player of the Year Award are team captain Paul de Villiers, who led the SA Under-20s to a bronze medal at the World Rugby U20 Championship, as well as Corne Beets and Damian Markus.

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The categories for Coach and Team of the Year are straight shootouts between Jacques Nienaber and the Springboks, John Dobson and the Stormers, and Hawies Fourie and the Cheetahs.

On the Currie Cup front, the Cheetahs’ Ruan Pienaar is up against two Pumas players in Devon Williams and Tinus de Beer for the top award, while the Boland duo of Cameron Hufke and Darian Hock are up against Keagan Fortune of the Falcons for the First Division Award.

“We had a wonderful year culminating in the World Cup victory, and I would like to congratulate all the nominees not only for their performances during the year, but also for their contribution to the local rugby landscape,” said Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby.

“All the names on the list of nominees can look back at the year and be proud of their performances. Rugby is a team game and I’m sure all of them will agree that nothing is possible without the player next to you, but they stood out and deserve these nominations.

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“All of our national teams were in action this year, with varying degrees of success, but every single player put their country first whenever and wherever they took the field, and I would like to thank them for that.

“A special word of thanks and congratulations to Jacques, Siya and the Springboks though – you were great ambassadors for South Africa and by defending the Webb Ellis Cup in France, you have ensured that the name of the Bok team of 2023 will forever be written in the annals of our game as one of the greatest.

“Locally, the Stormers hosted their second consecutive URC Final, the Cheetahs dethroned the Pumas in the Currie Cup, Boland and Falcons stood out in the First Division and Mzansi Challenge, and the Bulls Daisies were unbeaten in the season to secure the Women’s Premier Division title.

“I would like to sincerely thank every player, coach, administrator, referee, sponsor and all other significant role players for playing their part in making the 2023 season one for the ages.”

The nominees are (in alphabetical order):

SA Rugby Men’s Player of the Year:
Pieter-Steph du Toit
Eben Etzebeth
Siya Kolisi
Frans Malherbe
Damian Willemse

Springbok Women’s Player of the Year:
Aseza Hele
Libbie Janse van Rensburg
Babalwa Latsha
Rights Mkhari
Nadine Roos

SA Rugby Young Player of the Year:
Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (Stormers)
Jaden Hendrikse (Springboks/Sharks)
Canan Moodie (Springboks/Bulls)
Evan Roos (Springboks/Stormers)
Ruan Venter (Lions)

Springbok Sevens Men’s Player of the Year:
Ricardo Duarttee
Christie Grobbelaar
Shilton van Wyk

Junior Springbok Player of the Year:
Corne Beets
Paul de Villiers
Damian Markus

Team of the Year:
Cheetahs (Currie Cup)
Springboks
Stormers (URC)

Coach of the Year:
John Dobson (Stormers)
Hawies Fourie (Cheetahs)
Jacques Nienaber (Springboks)

Currie Cup Player of the Year:
Tinus de Beer (Pumas)
Ruan Pienaar (Cheetahs)
Devon Williams (Pumas)

First Division Player of the Year:
Keagan Fortune (Falcons)
Darian Hock (Boland)
Cameron Hufke (Boland)

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