Cape Town - Two previous winners, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Malcolm Marx, are among the FIVE nominees for the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year Award for 2018, while the Blitzboks and their coach, Neil Powell, were yet again nominated in two categories following the successful defence of their World Rugby Sevens Series crown.
The two bruising Springbok forwards - winners in 2017 (Marx) and 2016 (Du Toit) - are up against their national team-mates Aphiwe Dyantyi, who won the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year Award last month, Franco Mostert and Handre Pollard.
And in the category for Young Player of the Year, Springbok lock RG Snyman is up against four fleet-footed backs in Aphelele Fassi, Sbu Nkosi, Embrose Papier and Damian Willemse.
Two teams and their coaches were nominated in the categories for Team and Coach of the Year - Powell of the World Rugby Sevens Series champions, the Springbok Sevens team, and Swys de Bruin of the Lions, who finished as runners-up in Super Rugby for a third year running.
They are joined by SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus (Coach of the Year nomination) and Currie Cup Premier Division champions, the Sharks (Team of the Year nomination).
"These are exciting times for South African rugby and the number of new players who made their mark for the Springboks is encouraging for the future," said SA Rugby president Mark Alexander.
"I would like to congratulate all the nominees for their outstanding performances over the last year and wish them well for 2019, which is a massive year for us.
"The Springboks have shown a great resurgence under Rassie Erasmus and his coaching team and the fact that the media nominated him as one of the three Coaches of the Year is testimony to this. We believe we are heading in the right direction in our preparation for the Rugby World Cup in 2019.
"We’re also very proud of the Blitzboks and their coach, Neil Powell, who recently started their defence of the World Rugby Sevens Series trophy, which has stood proudly in South Africa for the last two years. Their nominations are just reward for consistently performing at a world-class standard."
The nominations for the Junior Springbok Player of the Year award were very close, with four players making the short-list - Tyrone Green, Salmaan Moerat, Wandisile Simelane and Damian Willemse.
And the three Blitzboks who are nominated for the Springbok Sevens Player of the Year award are Werner Kok, Dylan Sage - who was included in the World Rugby Sevens Dream Team - and Ruhan Nel.
The other categories where awards will be made are: Craven Week Player of the Tournament, Referee of the Year and Springbok Women’s Achiever of the Year.
Details of the announcement of the winners’ names will be made early in the new season next year. The winners will be announced before the start of the Super Rugby season.
The nominees are (in alphabetical order):
SA Rugby Player of the Year
1 Pieter-Steph du Toit
2 Aphiwe Dyantyi
3 Malcolm Marx
4 Franco Mostert
5 Handre Pollard
SA Rugby Young Player of the Year
1 Aphelele Fassi
2 Sbu Nkosi
3 Embrose Papier
4 RG Snyman
5 Damian Willemse
Team of the Year
1 Lions (Super Rugby runners-up)
2 Sharks (Currie Cup Premier Division winners)
3 Springbok Sevens (World Rugby Sevens Series winners)
Coach of the Year
1 Swys de Bruin (Lions)
2 Rassie Erasmus (Springboks)
3 Neil Powell (Springbok Sevens)
Springbok Sevens Player of the Year
1 Werner Kok
2 Ruhan Nel
3 Dylan Sage
Junior Springbok Player of the Year
1 Tyrone Green
2 Salmaan Moerat
3 Wandisile Simelane
4 Damian Willemse
Super Rugby Player of the Tournament
1 Aphiwe Dyantyi (Lions)
2 Malcolm Marx (Lions)
3 Franco Mostert (Lions)
Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year
1 SP Marais (Western Province)
2 Sergeal Petersen (Western Province)
3 Akker van der Merwe (Sharks)
Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year
1 Divan Nel (SWD Eagles)
2 Anrich Richter (Valke)
3 Etienne Taljaard (Valke)
SuperSport Rugby Challenge Player of the Year
1 Enver Brandt (Griquas)
2 Ruwellyn Isbell (Pumas)
3 Chris Smith (Pumas)
4 Stefan Ungerer (Pumas)