The names of Bulls stars, Duane Vermeulen and Cornal Hendricks, stand out among the group of players who have been nominated for the Players Choice Awards 2020.
Eighteen players have been nominated in the six categories, with the winners to be announced soon.
Noticeable names to miss out include Lions captain Elton Jantjies, Stormers hooker Bongi Mbonambi, Sharks No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Lions centre Burger Odendaal.
Also, no players from the Pumas and Griquas made the cut, but as former Springbok captain John Smit pointed out, the nominations are unique in that the players are voted for by their fellow players and peers.
Vermeulen has cracked the nod in two categories, namely Players’ Player of the Year and Forward of the Year, while Hendricks is up for Backline Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year.
Two Cheetahs players are also in the running in two categories. Veteran centre Frans Steyn has been nominated in the Backline Player of the Year category as well as the in the Players’ Player of the Year category, while No 8 Jeandre Rudolph is in the running for the Defender of the Year and Forward of the Year awards.
Smit, a former World Cup-winning Springbok captain and MyPlayers board member, remarked on the significance of the awards. “Nothing about 2020 was ideal or perfect – every week presented new challenges to players’ fitness, health, performance and mental welfare.
“To be nominated in one of the six categories suggests so much more about these players than just an acknowledgement of their talent and abilities.
“It also recognises character and mental fortitude in the most uncertain and disruptive season that most professional rugby players have ever been exposed to.”
Defender of the Year: Jeandré Rudolph (Cheetahs), Andisa Ntsila (Cheetahs), Steven Kitshoff (WP), Lukhanyo Am (Sharks)
Best off the bench: Morné van den Berg (Lions), Thembelani Bholi (Sharks), Arno Botha (Bulls), Sintu Manjezi (Bulls)
Forward of the Year: Duane Vermeulen (Bulls), Steven Kitshoff (WP), Jeandré Rudolph (Cheetahs), Marco van Staden (Bulls)
Back of the Year: Cornal Hendricks (Bulls), Frans Steyn (Cheetahs), Curwin Bosch (Sharks), Wandisile Simelane (Lions)
The LoveChange (most improved player) Award: Stedman Gans (Bulls), Tiaan Swanepoel (Lions), Dylan Richardson (Sharks), Vincent Tshituka (Lions)
Players’ Player of the Year: Duane Vermeulen (Bulls), Frans Steyn (Cheetahs), Cornal Hendricks (Bulls), Curwin Bosch (Sharks)