Free State Rugby hosted their annual Player Awards function on Thursday, 9 February 2017 with a glamourous evening at Ramblers Club in Bloemfontein.
The award for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs u.19 Player of the Year went to Kwenzo Blose. Kwenzo played a total of 10 games for the Toyota 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. Kwenzo has been included in the Junior Springbok squad yet again for the 2017 campaign.
Jasper Wiese earned the award as Toyota Free State Cheetahs u.21 Player of the Year. Wiese captained the Free State u.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 Vasity Cup competition.
His exceptional performance for the Toyota Free State XV in the Currie Cup Qualifying round earned Joseph the Toyota Free State XV Player of the Year for 2016. Dweba who is currently included in the Toyota Cheetah’s Vodacom Super Rugby squad represented the Toyota Free State XV in 9 Currie Cup Qualifier matches. He also played in three matches for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs u.21 team.
The award for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs Currie Cup Player of the Year – Sponsored by PWC went to Ox Nche. Ox made is 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.
Raymond Rhule received the award for the Toyota Cheetahs Super Rugby Player of the Year – Sponsored by PWC. Rhule made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut in 2013 against the Sharks and went on to play 52 games for the Toyota Cheetahs of which he played 15 in 2016.
The Toyota Free State Cheetah’s Player’s Player of the Year award went to Uzair Cassiem. The players voted for this award themselves. Cassiem made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut against the Jaguares and went on to play in all 15 Vodacom Super Rugby matches for the team, 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 Springbok debut against Wales on the 26th of November 2016.
The big award of the night, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs Player of the Year well deservingly went to the captain, Francois Venter. Venter represented the Toyota Cheetahs in 13 matches in 2016 bringing his career total to 45. He scored three tries during the season. Francois represented the Springbok 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.
Francois was selected for the Springbok end of year tour and made his debut for the National side on 12 November 2016 against England. He represented the Springboks in three matches.
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 Toyota Free State Cheetah players were capped. To qualify for Toyota Free State Cheetah colors, 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.