CAPE TOWN – Springboks Malcolm Marx and Faf de Klerk will go head to head with two All Blacks and an Irishman for the World Rugby Player of the Year Award later this month.
Marx and De Klerk were announced as nominees on the final short-list of five candidates for the award, with the winner being announced at the World Rugby Awards in Monte Carlo on November 25.
Double reigning World Player Beauden Barrett is again in the running, along with All Black teammate Rieko Ioane and Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton.
There have only been two South African winners of the award since its inception in 2001 – Schalk Burger in 2004 and Bryan Habana in 2007.
This year, though, De Klerk in particular stands a real chance of clinching the award.
The No 9 has been one of the key figures in the increasingly improving Springbok side this year, and played a critical role in the 2-1 series win over England in June, as well as the memorable 36-34 triumph over the All Blacks in New Zealand.
Marx is somewhat of a surprise finalist, having missed the three England Tests and playing the fewest – six – out of the nominees.
But the Bok hooker has been an integral part of the pack of forwards this season, and will look to push his cause further in the November internationals over the next four weekends.
De Klerk, though, won’t have that opportunity as he is staying with his English club Sale Sharks for all four Tests against England, France, Scotland and Wales.
Another Springbok in line for an award is star wing Aphiwe Dyantyi.
The Lions speedster was named in the World Breakthrough Player of the Year category, where he will be up against Jordan Larmour of Ireland and Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Previous World Rugby Players of the Year
2017 – Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
2016 – Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
2015 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2014 – Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)
2013 – Kieran Read (New Zealand)
2012 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2011 – Thierry Dusautoir (France)
2010 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2009 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2008 – Shane Williams (Wales)
2007 – Bryan Habana (South Africa)
2006 – Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
2005 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
2004 – Schalk Burger (South Africa)
2003 – Jonny Wilkinson (England)
2002 – Fabien Galthié (France)
2001 – Keith Wood (Ireland)
Here are your nominees for the World Rugby Men's 15s Player of the Year 2018 in association with @Mastercard
Winner to be announced at the #WorldRugbyAwards on 25 November pic.twitter.com/VePASy2nwk