Springbok and Stormers captain Jean de Villiers has been named the 2013 SA Player of the Year.
Nominated alongside Bismarck du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Willie le Roux and Duane Vermeulen, De Villiers was rewarded for his consistent performances throughout last year and for his contributions to the Springboks.
De Villiers has received plenty of criticism over the past two years, but has consistently refused to react in the press, instead making his rebuttal through consistently excellent performances. He enjoyed a strong Super Rugby campaign despite the Stormers struggling, then excelled in the Rugby Championship, finishing among the top players in numerous key performance indicators.
That De Villiers, 32, has been able to sustain the level of performance he has, despite the pressure accompanying captaincy, his advancing age and terrible management (he has far exceeded the recommended playing time over each of the past two seasons), tells of his class.
De Villiers becomes only the sixth player to be named SA Player of the Year more than once, following in the footsteps of Naas Botha (who won it four times), Bryan Habana (won three times), Uli Schmidt, Fourie du Preez and Schalk Burger (who all won it twice). He also received the award for Try of the Year after rounding off a superb team effort for the Springboks against Wales in Cardiff.
Le Roux won the Players' Player of the Year award, while 22-year-old Etzebeth became the first player to walk away with back-to-back awards for the Young Player of the Year.
2013 award winners
Saru Rugby Player of the Year: Jean de Villiers (Stormers/WP)
Young Player of the Year: Eben Etzebeth (Stormers/WP)
Sarpa Players’ Player of the Year: Willie le Roux (Cheetahs)
Springbok Sevens Player of the Year: Cornal Hendricks (Cheetahs)
SA U20 Player of the Year: Cheslin Kolbe (WP)
Team of the Year: Pumas
Coach of the Year: Jimmy Stonehouse (Pumas, SA President’s XV)
Super Rugby Player of the Year: Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs)
Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year: Scarra Ntubeni (WP)
Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year: Rosco Speckman (Pumas)
Vodacom Cup Player of the Year: Fred Zeilinga (Sharks XV)
SuperSport Try of the Year: Jean de Villiers (Springboks vs Wales in Cardiff)
Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix