SA Players' Player of the Year revealed
NEWS: The winner of South Africa’s Players’ Player of the Year award has been revealed.
This year, Springbok and Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am has been voted the best player by his peers.
“Being named Men’s Fifteens Players’ Player of the Year really means a lot to me,” said Am.
“It remains a special award to receive, and what makes it great is that it was voted for by my teammates and fellow players. I am honoured.
“This has really been an amazing season for me. I had a good start, and I finished it on a high as well before I got injured. Throughout, I felt in good form, and importantly, I felt confident every second I was on the field. For the season that lies ahead, I really hope to take up where I left off.”
The other nominees were Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx, Evan Roos and Damian Willemse.
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Meanwhile, Zain Davids was crowned the Men’s Sevens Players’ Player of the Year.
He beat Selvyn Davids and JC Pretorius.
“I always strive to set an example for my teammates, whether that’s on or off the playing field,” said Davids.
“On a personal level, this recognition means the world to me. Yes, I play every game as if it’s my last, but I can only hope that my fellow Blitzboks reap the rewards of my efforts. Being named Men’s Sevens Players’ Player of the Year confirms that I am contributing to our team’s success.
“In that regard, I must acknowledge the support structures and people I have around me. This enables me to convert individual effort into strong team performances, and while this is an individual award, it does belong to the team as well.
“This is the first year members of MyPlayers were given the opportunity to nominate and vote for a Men’s Sevens Players’ Player of the Year, and I think this is a fairer reflection of the South African rugby landscape. I sincerely believe Sevens plays a massive role in this country and the team has worked incredibly hard over many years to attain the status sevens now enjoys here and abroad. Just as with fifteens players, we are also goal-driven individuals, and having an accolade such us this rewards players for working hard, playing to inspire others, and chasing our individual and collective goals.”
Nadine Roos walked away with the Women Players’ Player of the Year award.
“I live by the mantra, ‘Work hard in silence, and let success make the noise’,” said Roos.
“When I reflect on what it means to me to be named as the first Women Players’ Player of the Year, I have to reflect on the people I spend most of my time with – my teammates. In the off-season, we run the most, work the hardest, and those are the times when we have to push and pull each other through tough moments in pursuit of our ultimate goals. It’s also when players really get to know one another; how hard someone is willing to work and what they stand for.
“My teammates know me as someone who always works incredibly hard. I’m tough in training and in matches, and I value a collaborative environment where individuals succeed because of the team. I attach tremendous value to this accolade because it means my contributions are being seen and felt. I want to be known as someone who is always professional and whose work ethic and personality contribute to the well-being of the team. Being voted Players’ Player of the Year by them and knowing that they believe in me is truly special. In team sports, having the backing of one’s teammates is a major factor in an individual’s ability to perform.
“The introduction of the Women Players’ Player of the Year category is a significant moment for women’s rugby in general. I recall a conversation we had in the team a while back: We wondered when women were going to be given the opportunity to nominate and vote for players in similar categories to those the men have had for quite some time. Now, we can finally say this reward is an acknowledgement of the growth in women’s rugby in South Africa, especially during the last two years. Players are being seen, and this will undoubtedly contribute to further growth of the national sevens and fifteens women’s teams. Had the teams not developed, there wouldn’t have been players to nominate. But there’s a healthy rivalry among players in both squads, and that allows us to improve our individual and team standards to a level where recognising players becomes a natural progression in the game. This award will serve as an incentive for every player to work even harder.”
Eugene Henning, CEO of MyPlayers, remarked: “Following the 2021 MyPlayers Awards, several players approached us about the format and categories of the annual player-led honours. It was felt that the BlitzBoks and Bok Women, sevens and fifteens, didn’t have a fair chance to be recognised beyond categories such as Best off the Bench, Backline Player or Most Improved Player of the Year. Subsequently, we retired almost all existing categories and introduced only three Players’ Player of the Year awards. By doing this, the players are acknowledging the status and growth of South African rugby beyond the men’s fifteens game.”
Henning congratulated the three recipients: “In 2020 and 2021, the players named Lukhanyo as the Best Defender of the Year, but there is so much more to his game than his defensive abilities. Despite suffering an injury against the Wallabies in Sydney, his fellow players still cast the vast majority of votes in his favour, and him being named Men’s Fifteens Players’ Player of the Year comes as no surprise.
“Zain was included in the Dream Team following the 2022 World Rugby Sevens Series during which he scored 13 tries, made 68 carries, 18 line breaks and 91 tackles. What the Men’s Sevens Players’ Player of the Year Award shows is that he is also a magnificent team player, and I don’t think there can be a better way to conclude one’s season than receiving this sort of recognition from your teammates.
“Nadine was nominated in the most tightly contested category of the three, and I think that says something about the team spirit and effort of the Bok Women to elevate the game to a different standard, over the past two years in particular. Nadine is a member of both the national fifteens and sevens squads, and her performances at the recent Sevens World Cup in Cape Town underscored her class as a player, while this reward illustrates how highly her teammates regard her as a player and person. By being named the first Women Players’ Player of the Year, she’s breaking new ground for women’s rugby in South Africa, and her example will inspire many more girls to follow in her footsteps.”
MyPlayers award winners:
Men’s Fifteens Players’ Player of the Year: LUKHANYO AM (other nominees: Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx, Evan Roos, Damian Willemse)
Men’s Sevens Players’ Player of the Year: ZAIN DAVIDS (other nominees: Selvyn Davids, JC Pretorius)
Women Players’ Player of the Year: NADINE ROOS (other nominees: Ayanda Malinga, Aphiwe Ngwevu, Sizophila Solontsi)