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CAPE TOWN — There’s one category in the SA Rugby Player of the Year awards where there is surely no competition – Coach of the Year. While Johan Ackermann certainly deserves praise for the way he guided the Lions to the Super Rugby final and John Dobson gets credit for coaching Western Province to Currie Cup success, Sevens coach Neil Powell stands alone in his achievements of the past year as the Blitzboks dominated the 2016/17 season to take the World Sevens crown. The Blitzboks are a shoe-in for Team of the Year. The coveted SA Rugby Player of the Year should be a straight fight between Siya Kolisi and Malcolm Marx. Kolisi has done well both for club and country, coming back from a lengthy injury layoff to captain the Stormers and perform well for the Boks. But the good money will be on Malcolm Marx who, despite some dodgy lineout throwing, is probably the only South African player regarded as the best in his position internationally. He looks older than his 23 years, and should take the Young Player of the Year award after Curwin Bosch didn’t quite live up to the initial hype though his future remains extremely bright. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
Springbok and Emirates Lions hooker Malcolm Marx leads the nominations for the SA Rugby Player of the Year 2017 awards with three, closely followed by four players who bagged two nominations each.
The 23-year-old Marx is nominated in the top category, SA Rugby Player of the Year, as well as for Young Player and Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year.
Marx’s fellow-nominees for SA Rugby Player of the Year are Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Jaco Kriel and Jan Serfontein, all of whom were in impressive form not only for the Boks, but also for their Vodacom Super Rugby franchises earlier in the season.
Malcolm Marx leads the nominations for the SA Rugby Player of the Year 2017 awards – nominated for SA Rugby Player, Young Player (U23) and Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year. He's up against Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Jaco Kriel and Jan Serfontein for the main award. pic.twitter.com/eVObWTVAoV
— South African Rugby (@Springboks) December 4, 2017
The four players nominated in two categories are Jaco Kriel (SA Rugby and Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year), Warrick Gelant (Young Player and Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year), as well as Curwin Bosch and Damian Willemse, both of whom are nominated in the categories for Young Player and Junior Springbok Player of the Year.
“Four of these five players are aged 23 and younger, which bodes very well for the future of the game here in South Africa,” said SA Rugby President, Mr Mark Alexander.
“I would like to congratulate Malcolm, Jaco, Warrick, Curwin and Damian on their multiple nominations, as well as all the other players, coaches and teams who were recognised for their performances in 2017.”
The awards for Coach and Team of the Year are a straight shoot-out between three sides and their coaches – the Springbok Sevens team and Neil Powell, the Emirates Lions and Johan Ackermann, and DHL Western Province and John Dobson.
Powell led the Blitzboks to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series crown in 2016/17 and the team won a total of five tournaments; Ackermann’s Emirates Lions finished at the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby standings and were runners-up in the competition; and Dobson coached DHL Western Province to titles in the Currie Cup Premier Division and the new SuperSport Rugby Challenge.
Juarno Augustus, who was already crowned the World Rugby U20 Championship Player of the Tournament in June, is up against his SA U20 team-mates Bosch and Willemse for the Junior Springbok Player of the Year award.
And the three Blitzboks who are nominated for the Steinhoff Springbok Sevens Player of the Year award are Rosko Specman – one of the three candidates for the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Award for 2017 – Werner Kok and Chris Dry.
Other categories where awards will be made are: Supersport Try of the Year, Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Tournament, Outsurance Referee of the Year and Springbok Women’s Achiever of the Year, while Graham Knoop of DirectAxis False Bay was already named Club Player of the Year after the Gold Cup final last month.
The names of the winners will be announced early in the new season next year.
The nominees are (in alphabetical order):
SA Rugby Player of the Year:
- Eben Etzebeth
- Siya Kolisi
- Jaco Kriel
- Malcolm Marx
- Jan Serfontein
SA Rugby Young Player of the Year:
- Curwin Bosch
- Jean-Luc du Preez
- Warrick Gelant
- Malcolm Marx
- Damian Willemse
Team of the Year:
- Emirates Lions (Vodacom Super Rugby runners up)
- Springbok Sevens (HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series winners)
- DHL Western Province (Currie Cup Premier Division and Supersport Rugby Challenge winners)
Coach of the Year:
- Johan Ackermann (Emirates Lions)
- John Dobson (DHL Western Province)
- Neil Powell (Springbok Sevens)
Steinhoff Springbok Sevens Player of the Year:
- Chris Dry
- Werner Kok
- Rosko Specman
Junior Springbok Player of the Year:
- Juarno Augustus
- Curwin Bosch
- Damian Willemse
Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Tournament:
- Jaco Kriel (Emirates Lions)
- Malcolm Marx (Emirates Lions)
- Franco Mostert (Emirates Lions)
Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year:
- Nizaam Carr (DHL Western Province)
- Robert du Preez (DHL Western Province)
- Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year:
- Jaun Kotze (Down Touch Griffons)
- Tertius Maarman (Down Touch Griffons)Jeandré Rudolph (Leopards)
SuperSport Rugby Challenge Player of the Year:
- Craig Barry (DHL Western Province)
- Enver Brandt (Tafel Lager Griquas)
- Shaun Reynolds (Xerox Golden Lions XV)