By Petros Augousti
Springbok lock Victor Matfield has been officially recognised as one of the most talented and promising players in the country after scooping three nominations, the most by any player, for the South African Rugby Annual Awards to be held in Johannesburg on October 30.
Matfield joins two other Bok newcomers, Lukas van Biljon and Conrad Jantjes for the prestigious Player of the Year award.
Each category is made up of five finalists and for the first time South African rugby will honour a standout performer in each of the recognised competitions.
Matfield was on Wednesday named as a finalist in Player of the Year, Try of the Year and Super 12 player of the year.
Lions captain Andre Vos was rewarded for his outstanding service this season with a nomination for Player of the Year, despite losing the Bok captaincy to Bob Skinstad.
Flyhalf Braam van Straaten capped a remarkable turnaround, earning the final nomination, after being discared by the Bok selectors.
Van Straaten kicked South Africa to victory in their Tri-Nations test against the Australians at Loftus and has gone from strength to strength, helping Western Province to the Currie Cup final.
Lions centre Gcobani Bobo was nominated for two categories, the Most Promising Player of the year and Try of the Year.
Player of the Year finalists:
Andre Vos (Lions), Victor Matfield (Blue Bulls), Lukas van Biljon (Sharks), Braam van Straaten (WP), Conrad Jantjes (Lions)
Most Promising Player of the Year finalists:
Joe van Niekerk (Lions), Gcobani Bobo (Lions), Wylie Human (Free State), Conrad Jantjes (Lions), Adrian Jacobs (Falcons)
Sevens Player of the Year finalists:
Andre Pretorius (Lions), Paul Treu (SWD), Helgard Brink (Free State), Fabian Juries (EP), Barry Jacobs (SWD).
Super 12 Player of the Year finalists:
Victor Matfield (Bulls), Andre Vos (Lions), Mark Andrews (Sharks), Charl van Rensburg (Sharks), Butch James (Sharks)
Currie Cup Player of the Year finalists:
Trevor Halstead (Sharks), Braam van Straaten (WP), Russel Winter (Lions), Wylie Human (Free State), Gcobani Bobo (Lions)
Supersport Club Player of the Tournament finalists:
Kaya Malotana (Pirates), Kobus Grobellaar (Shimlas), Grant Bartle (Pirates), Antonius Verhoven (Ceres), Cisshohn Morris (Tygerberg)
Craven Week Player of the Tournament:
Derek Houghardt (Boland), Luke Watson (EP), Jeandre de Lange (SWD), Jeremy Plaatjies (SWD), Tembani Mkokele (Border)
Try of the Year finalists:
Bob Skinstad (SA vs Australia, Tri Nations) Ian Fihlani (Border vs Leopards in Bankfin-Currie Cup) Gcobani Bobo (Lions vs Falcons in Vodacom Cup), Victor Matfield (Bulls vs Waratahs in Super 12), Deon Kayser (Sharks vs Bulls in Currie Cup) - Sapa