Springbok and Free State Cheetahs lock Lood de Jager was on Thursday evening named SA Rugby Player of the Year for 2015.
The 23-year-old becomes the youngest player to walk away with the prestigious award since 22-year-old Bryan Habana won it back in 2005.
“Personally, I had an unbelievable year with the Springboks, although it was a bit up and down for the team,” said De Jager.
“But a lot of younger players gained invaluable experience and this bodes well for the future of the South African game, we just have to now go out and use it in 2016.
“I’m excited for a big season ahead, with a lot of challenges, and I’m sure we can all make a difference this year.”
De Jager beat out fellow nominees Damian de Allende, Eben Etzebeth, Schalk Burger and Jaco Kriel for the honour, though neither Kriel or de Allende walked away empty-handed.
Kriel was named both the Players’ Player of the Year and the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year for leading the Golden Lions to victory in the domestic competition.
De Allende, meanwhile, walked away with the Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year award.
The Xerox Golden Lions were deservedly named the Absa Team of the Year, while Johan Ackermann won the Absa Coach of the Year for the second season in a row.
The Bulls' Jesse Kriel was also honoured, winning the Absa Young Player of the Year award, while Werner Kok was named the World Rugby’s Sevens Player of the Year.
“I would like to congratulate Lood and all the other winners on their achievements in 2015,” said SA Rugby President, Oregan Hoskins.
“We may not have achieved the results we wanted, but when one looks back at the achievements of these and other individuals, their conduct on the field and off it, and the way in which they acted as ambassadors for their teams and their country, you cannot help but feel proud.
“It’s encouraging to see the relative youth of so many of the winners and nominees, something that certainly bodes well for the future of the Springboks and South African rugby as a whole.
“I certainly can’t wait to see what 2016 will bring.”
All the winners and finalists for 2015:
SARU Rugby Player of the Year: Lood de Jager
Nominees: Schalk Burger, Damian De Allende, Eben Etzebeth, Jaco Kriel
Absa Young Player of the Year: Jesse Kriel
Nominees: Lood de Jager, Warrick Gelant, Handré Pollard, Seabelo Senatla
Players’ Player of the Year presented by MyPlayers: Jaco Kriel
SA Sevens Player of the Year: Werner Kok
Nominees: Seabelo Senatla, Kwagga Smith
SA Under-20 Player of the Year: Warrick Gelant
Nominees: Jason Jenkins, Hanro Liebenberg
Absa Team of the Year: Xerox Golden Lions (Currie Cup)
Nominees: Springboks, Springbok Sevens, DHL Stormers (Vodacom Super Rugby), DHL Western Province (Currie Cup)
Absa Coach of the Year: Johann Ackermann (Xerox Golden Lions)
Nominees: Robert du Preez (NWU-Pukke, Leopards), Neil Powell (Springbok Sevens)
Vodacom Super Rugby Player of Year: Damian De Allende (DHL Stormers)
Nominees: Jaco Kriel (Emirates Lions), Warren Whiteley (Emirates Lions)
Vodacom Cup Player of the Year: Marnus Schoeman (Steval Pumas)
Nominees: Wiaan Liebenberg (Vodacom Blue Bulls), JC Roos (Steval Pumas)
Absa Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year: Jaco Kriel (Xerox Golden Lions)
Nominees: Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Warren Whiteley (Xerox Golden Lions)
Absa Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year: Rhyno Smith (Leopards)
Nominees: Leighton Eksteen (SWD Eagles), Juan Language (Leopards)
Supersport Try of the Year: Johan Deysel (NWU-Pukke v Shimas, FNB Varsity Cup Final, presented by Steinhoff International)
Nominees: Faf de Klerk (Emirates Lions v Vodacom Bulls, Vodacom Super Rugby), Jesse Kriel (Springboks v Australia, Castle Lager Rugby Championship), Dillon Smit (FNB Varsity Cup Dream Team v SA Under-20), Rhyno Smith (FNB Varsity Cup Dream Team v SA Under-20).
Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Year: Ernst van Rhyn (WP)
Marriott Referee Award: Rasta Rasivhenge
Women’s Achiever Award: Veroeshka Grain
Club Player of the Year: Leon du Plessis (Rustenburg Impala)