Springbok centre Damian de Allende and lock Lood de Jager have earned two high-profile nominations in the 2015 Saru awards.
After outstanding seasons, De Allende and De Jager each received nominations for Player of the Year, while De Allende was also nominated for Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year and De Jager cracked the nod in the Young Player of the Year category.
Warrick Gelant, Seabelo Senatla, Warren Whiteley and Jaco Kriel all received nominations in more than one category in 'breakthrough' years for several players.
Gelant was nominated in three categories – along with dynamic 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 Lions were rewarded for a great season with a host of different nominations. Along with Kriel and Whiteley, their coach, Johan Ackermann, was also nominated for Coach of the Year, while 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 Super Rugby and 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 nominees, along with Gelant, Senatla, Jesse Kriel and Handré Pollard.
The exciting Gelant was nominated in the categories for Currie Cup Premier Division and SA U20 Player of the Year, where he is up against Junior Springbok enforcers Hanro Liebenberg and Jason Jenkins.
The Golden Lions, having gone 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 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).
Damian De Allende
Lood de Jager
Young Player of the Year:
Lood de Jager
Team of the Year:
Golden Lions (Currie Cup)
Stormers (Super Rugby)
Western Province (Currie Cup)
Coach of the Year:
Johann Ackermann (Golden Lions)
Neil Powell (Springbok Sevens)
Robert du Preez (NWU-Pukke, Leopards)
SA U20 Player of the Year:
SA Sevens Player of the Year:
Super Rugby Player of Year:
Damian De Allende (Stormers)
Jaco Kriel (Lions)
Warren Whiteley (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)