Springboks: Sneak peak at the SA Player of the Year
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: On Thursday the South African Rugby fraternity will find who is regarded as the best SA Rugby player of the year 2018. Leezil Hendricks looks at all the candidates.
The SA Rugby awards on Thursday, February 7, follows a monumental year – which includes a Springboks win over the All Blacks in Wellington and the BlitzBoks being crowned Sevens World Series champions for the second consecutive year.
Keeping in mind that rugby is a team sport, it’s not a bad gesture to praise individual brilliance.
The five nominees for the SA Rugby player of the Year, 2018, are Pieter-Steph du Toit, Malcolm Marx, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Franco Mostert and Handré Pollard.
As we await to see who walks away with the prestigious accolade, we take a look at the nominees.
Pieter-Steph du Toit
Born in Cape Town, the 2016 SA Rugby player of the year attended Hoerskool Swartland and got his first taste of professional rugby in 2012 at the Sharks.
He made his Springboks debut in November 2013 when he came off the bench during a Test against Wales in Cardiff.
Currently plying his trade at the Stormers, the 26-year-old’s forward versatility makes him any coach’s dream.
Frequently used as a lock at the Stormers, Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus’ decisions to utilize him as flank boosted this youngster’s career.
In June 2018, the Springboks No.854 received the honour of captaining the Boks against Wales in Washington.
Later that year in September, Du Toit proved his value and produced arguably one of his best individual performance against New Zealand. With a tackle tally of 24 the flank proved to be the origin for the Springboks’ 36-34 win over the All Blacks in Wellington.
Du Toit’s impressive 2018 season has a lot of high-profile overseas clubs seeking his services.
Could be the most decorated Springboks player, the Lions hooker dominated 2017’s awards ceremony as he scooped up SA Rugby Player of the Year, SA Rugby Young Player of the Year and was voted South African Super Rugby Player of the Tournament.
Marx was born in Germiston and represented the Lions since the young age of 13 (Under-13 Craven Week competition’). He went onto to play for the University of Johannesburg’s Varsity side and made his senior debut for the Golden Lions against the Leopards in 2014.
The 24-year-old made the Lions Super Rugby squad in 2014 and dynamic ball-carrying skills made him a regular feature in the squad.
The hooker’s individual accolades are tremendous. He ended the 2018 Super Rugby season as the Lions’ top try-scorer of the year with 27 tries and was nominated for World Rugby player of the Year 2018.
Certainly, a breath of fresh air. Born in the Eastern Cape, the wing represented the Border Bulldogs as a flyhalf at the 2007 Craven Week tournament.
Dyantyi, also a very talented footballer, attended the University of Johannesburg and made the Varsity Cup side in 2015. Dyantyi signed a professional contract with the Lions in 2016.
Fast forward to 2018 and the wing was included in the Lions Super Rugby squad.
The 24-year-old’s 2018 rise to rugby royalty was intense as certainly just as intense and fast as he is. Dyantyi’s tremendous performance for the Lions resulted in him being named the Lions Backline Player of the year 2018.
In the same year, he made his debut for the Springboks during England’s visit to South Africa in June and also scored his first try during that Test.
Thus far, Dyantyi has played 13 Springbok test and scored six tries.
His brilliance in the Bok jersey made sure he received the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the year 2018 in France.
2018 was certainly all about this new guy named – Aphiwe Dyantyi.
One of SA Rugby’s unsung heroes.
The lock has a remarkable work-rate and has no problem in doing the donkey not only for Springboks but for the Lions and now his Premiership side Gloucester.
Mostert, born in Welkom, joined the Golden Lions in 2013 from the Blue Bulls. The forward, who can play flank and lock, made the Lions Super Rugby squad in 2014.
The 28-year-old has been an integral part of the Loins’ set-up in the last few seasons. He helped the side reach three consecutive Super Rugby finals and with 234 tackle tally the lock top the Super Rugby charts for the most tackles won in the 2018 season.
Mostert has been capped 21 times by South Africa and was a prominent feature in the 2018 series against England and the Springbok’s November tour.
His impeccable performance caught the attention of former Lions coach Johan Ackermann, who made sure the Mostert join Gloucester.
In the UK, Mostert continues to amaze and already made six appearances for Gloucester.
Regarded as one the best flyhalves in SA Rugby history.
Born in Somerset West in Cape Town, 24-year-old made his way to Pretoria in 2012. He first played Varsity cup for UP Tuks but soon got scooped up by the Blue Bulls in 2013.
The flyhalf, who can also play centre, was included in the Bulls’ 2014 Super Rugby squad and now boast with 46 Super Rugby caps for the Bulls.
The Pretoria-based side have been struggling the last seasons, however, part of the leadership group Pollard seems to be the silver lining in the squad.
He made his Springboks debut at the tender of 20 against Scotland in 2014.
Four years later, in November 2018 Pollard surpassed the Springboks legend Naas Botha’s points record of 312 points during Springboks’ Test against France
Just at 24, the experienced flyhalf is easily regarded as one of the top No.10s in the world.
And he proved his prowess during Springboks’ historic win over the All Blacks in Wellington as he slotted four conversions and a penalty, while Beauden Barrett missed several kicks at goal.