Dublin - Springbok Sevens stalwart Stefan Basson and SA Under 21 star Keegan Daniel are amongst the first list of award nominees announced by the International Rugby Board in Dublin on Tuesday.

The IRB has announced the nominees in three of 12 categories to be recognised at the 2006 IRB Awards.

Shortlists have been published for IRB Sevens Player of the Year, IRB Under 21 Player of the Year and IRB Under 19 Player of the Year, with the nine players nominated representing six different countries.

For their outstanding contributions in Sevens rugby Stefan Basson (South Africa), Uale Mai (Samoa) and Mathew Tait (England) are nominated for IRB Sevens Player of the Year.

At Under 19 level Anthony Faingaa, Josh Holmes (both Australia) and Victor Vito (New Zealand) are nominated for the IRB Under 19 Player of the Year award, while at Under 21 level Lionel Beauxis (France), Keegan Daniel (South Africa) and Digby Ioane (Australia) are the nominees for IRB Under 21 Player of the Year.

Basson established himself as one of the outstanding players on the IRB Sevens tournament circuit, helping the Springbok Sevens to a credible third position on the log. Daniel was a member of the SA U21 team who lost to France in the final of the IRB U21 World Championships earlier this year in France.

Johan Prinsloo, MD of SA Rugby, said he was extremely excited by news of the SA nominations. "SA Rugby congratulate them and along with all the other nominees," said Prinsloo. - Sapa