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, while 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 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 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 Super Rugby Player of the Year, while De Jager is one of the five Young Players of the Year, along with Gelant, Senatla, Jesse Kriel and Handre Pollard.
The exciting Gelant was nominated in the categories for 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 Currie Cup Premier Division season unbeaten, are one of five sides nominated by the country’s media as Team of the Year, and will face opposition from the Springbok Sevens, Springboks, Stormers and Western Province.
Ackermann faces competition from Blitzboks coach Neil Powell and Robert du Preez of the Currie Cup First Division winners, the Leopards and NWU-Pukke, to determine who will be the Coach of the Year.
The three nominees in the category of Vodacom Cup Player of the Year are Wiaan Liebenberg (Blue Bulls), JC Roos (Pumas) and Marnus Schoeman (Pumas), while the 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, Young Player and Team of the Year Awards, which will be conducted online at www.springbokmagazine.com from Friday, December 11 until Friday, January 8, 2016. All the winners will be announced in the New Year.
All the nominations for 2015 (in alphabetical order):
SARU Rugby Player of the Year:
Damian De Allende
Lood de Jager
Young Player of the Year:
Lood de Jager
Team of the Year:
Golden Lions (Absa Currie Cup)
Stormers (Super Rugby)
Western Province (Currie Cup)
Coach of the Year:
Johan Ackermann (Xerox Golden Lions)
Neil Powell (Springbok Sevens)
Robert du Preez (NWU-Pukke, Leopards)
SA Under-20 Player of the Year:
SA Sevens Player of the Year:
Super Rugby Player of Year:
Damian De Allende (Stormers)
Jaco Kriel (Emirates Lions)
Warren Whiteley (Emirates Lions)
Vodacom Cup Player of the Year:
Wiaan Liebenberg (Blue Bulls)
JC Roos (Pumas)
Marnus Schoeman (Pumas)
Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year:
Warrick Gelant (Blue Bulls)
Jaco Kriel (Golden Lions)
Warren Whiteley (Golden Lions)
Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year:
Leighton Eksteen (SWD Eagles)
Juan Language (Leopards)
Rhyno Smith (Leopards)
– Other awards that will be presented are in the categories of MyPlayers 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.