Gurthrö Steenkamp was on Monday named as the Saru Player of the Year for the 2010 season. The Vodacom Blue Bulls prop captured the crown at the end of a fabulous domestic season during which he helped his side claim their third Vodacom Super 14 title.
How dramatically have things changed for the Blue Bulls, Bulls and Springbok Gurthrö Steenkamp?
On Monday evening Steenkamp was named as South Africa’s rugby player of the year after a brilliant season in which he not only helped the Bulls to win the Super 14 title again, but also proved himself as the country’s top loosehead prop.
Four other Boks that had been nominated for the title were beaten by Steenkamp, Francois Hougaard, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh and Schalk Burger all had to step back for the 29-year-old player.
A year ago, Steenkamp had a disappointing Bok tour to Europe and he came home early due to an injury he sustained during a nightmare game against the Leicester Tigers.
He lost his Springbok contract as well as his place as first-choice loosehead to Tendai Mtawarira.
“That hurt,” Steenkamp admitted to Sport24. “Many things went wrong, but fortunately I had the opportunity to set it right. It took a lot of hard work but it was worth it.”
He is only the second front row player since Os du Randt to be receive this prestigious award.
Du Randt, who was honoured with the award in 1997, was Steenkamp’s mentor for some time, especially while Steenkamp still played for Free State.
Du Randt is currently the Bok scrum doctor.
“Yes, us guys in the front don’t often get such awards, so it is a big honour.”
“I can’t accept it only on my own behalf because rugby is a team game and we all contribute.”
“So I dedicate it to all of my team-mates,” said Steenkamp, who has played in 31 Tests since his debut against Scotland in 2004.
He will miss the end of year Bok tour due to a broken arm, but is planning to return in 2011 where he left off.
Steenkamp’s sublime performances for the Springboks this year as well as his efforts for the Vodacom Bulls saw him claim the award ahead of some outstanding competition. Also nominated were Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Francois Hougaard and Schalk Burger.
Xerox Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies was named as Young Player of the Year; the Vodacom Bulls were Team of the Year and Allister Coetzee was chosen as Absa Coach of the Year among the other main awards, which are voted for by rugby journalists. Vodacom Western Province wing Gio Aplon was selected by his peers as Players’ Player of the Year.
Jantjies claimed a second award on Monday evening as the SA under-20 Player of the Year, following his outstanding performances for the Baby Boks at this year’s IRB Junior World Championships in Argentina where they ended the tournament in third position.
Full list of awards winners is:
Saru Player of the Year – Gurthrö Steenkamp (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Players’ Player of the Year – Gio Aplon (Vodacom Western Province)
Saru Young Player of the Year – Elton Jantjies (Xerox Lions)
Saru Team of the Year – Vodacom Bulls
Absa Coach of the Year – Allister Coetzee
Vodacom Super 14 Player of the Year – Andries Bekker (Vodacom Stormers)
Absa Curie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year – Bjorn Basson (GWK Griquas)
Absa Curie Cup First Division Player of the Year – Norman Nelson (Eastern Province Kings)
SuperSport Try of the Year – Jaque Fourie (Vodacom Stormers v Crusaders)
Sasol Sevens Player of the Year – Kyle Brown
SA Under-20 Player of the Year – Elton Jantjies (Xerox Lions)
Vodacom Cup Player of the Year – Francois Brummer (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
SAA Club Champs Player of the Year – Lourens Adriaanse (Maties)
SARU Women’s Rugby Achiever of the Year – Dolly Mavungwana
Marriott Refereeing Achievement of the Year – Craig Joubert
Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Tournament – Johan Goosen (Free State)