Venter named Cheetahs' best for 2016
Cape Town - Free State Rugby hosted its annual player awards function with a glamourous evening at Ramblers Club in Bloemfontein on Thursday.
The big award of the night, the Free State Cheetahs Player of the Year, went to captain and centre Francois Venter.
Venter represented the Cheetahs in 13 matches in 2016, bringing his career total to 45. He scored three tries during the season.
Venter represented South Africa ‘A’ side in the two matches against the Saxons.
He played in six Currie Cup matches and captained the side in the Currie Cup semi-final and final.
The midfielder was then selected for the Springbok end-of-year tour and made his Test debut for the national side on November 12, 2016 against England at Twickenham. He represented the Springboks in three Tests.
The award for the Free State Cheetahs Currie Cup Player of the Year went to Ox Nche.
The prop made his Currie Cup debut against Boland and went on to play in 10 more matches, including the semi-final and final. He scored 10 points during the season.
Wing Raymond Rhule received the award for the Cheetahs Super Rugby Player of the Year.
Rhule made his Super Rugby debut in 2013 against the Sharks and went on to play 52 games for the Cheetahs of which he played 15 in 2016.
The Free State Cheetahs Players’ Player of the Year award went to flank Uzair Cassiem.
Cassiem made his Super Rugby debut against the Jaguares and went on to play in all 15 Super Rugby matches for the team, scoring 30 points during the competition. He played in 10 Currie Cup matches, including the semi-final and final and was a named man-of-the-match in the Currie Cup final. He scored 20 points during the season.
Cassiem was chosen for the Springbok end-of-year tour and made his Test debut against Wales on November 26, 2016.
His exceptional performance for the Free State XV in the Currie Cup Qualifying round earned hooker Joseph Dweba the Free State XV Player of the Year for 2016.
Dweba, who is currently included in the Cheetahs’ Super Rugby, squad represented the Free State XV in nine Currie Cup Qualifier matches. He also played in three matches for the Free State Cheetahs under-21 team.
The award for the Free State Cheetahs Under-19 Player of the Year went to prop Kwenzo Blose.
Blose played a total of 10 games for the Free State Cheetahs Under-19 team in the 2016 competition. He missed the first three games of the campaign due to national duties at the IRB under-20 World Cup in England where he played a significant role in the success for the Junior Springbok team.
Blose represented the Junior Boks in matches against Japan and Argentina. He also represented the University of the Free State Young Guns Team.
He has been included in the Junior Springbok squad yet again for the 2017 campaign.
Loose forward Jasper Wiese earned the award as Free State Cheetahs Under-21 Player of the Year. Wiese captained the Free State Under-21 team in 2016 and played in a total of 11 matches.
He also represented the Toyota Free State XV in 9 matches in the Currie Cup Qualifying round and played for CUT in the 2016 Varsity Cup competition.
Two new awards were introduced, namely the Prof Basie Verster Award for Forward of the Year and the Harold Verster Award for the Backline Player of the Year.
Uzair Cassiem received the Prof Basie Verster Award for Forward of the Year and Francois Venter received the Harold Verster Award for Backline Player of the Year.
Four Free State Cheetah players were capped. To qualify for Free State Cheetahs colours, a player has to play in six consecutive Currie Cup matches or in 10 Currie Cup matches in total for the team. At a different occasion a couple of players were already capped in 2016. Four players qualified in the meantime and they are Justin Basson, Tom Botha, Johan Coetzee and William Small-Smith.
Under-19 Player of the Year - Kwenzo Blose
Under-21 Player of the Year - Jasper Wiese
Free State XV Player of the Year - Joseph Dweba
Forward of the Year - Uzair Cassiem
Backline Player of the Year - Francois Venter
Currie Cup Player of the Year - Ox Nche
Super Rugby Player of the Year - Raymond Rhule
Players' Player of the Year - Uzair Cassiem
Player of the Year - Francois Venter