South African Rugby

Friday, September 30, 2005

Matfield and Habana nominated for player of the year

With an emphatic series victory over the British and Irish Lions and a sixth Tri-Nations crown this year, New Zealand are likely to be named the International Rugby Board's team of the year in late

And while they have three players nominated in the Player of the Year category, two Springboks are the favourites to win the award for the second year running for South Africa. Blue Bulls stars Bryan
Habana and Victor Matfield were yesterday nominated alongside All Blacks Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Tana Umaga for the prestigious Player of the Year award, won by Springbok flanker Schalk Burger last year.

The All Black team and their coach Graham Henry and Wales, winners of the Six Nations title, and their coach Mike Ruddock, have been nominated in the categories team and coach of the year. The awards were won by the 2004 Tri-Nations-winning Springboks and their coach Jake White last season.

While All Blacks captain Umaga may be the leader of the number one ranked team in the world and the sentimental choice to take the award, his form throughout the season wasn't nearly as good as his compatriots, McCaw and Carter. Both enjoyed superb outings against the Lions and were again on top of their game in the Tri-Nations, but individually neither matched the feats of Matfield and Habana.

Simply put, Matfield is the standout lock forward in world rugby. He is unmatched in the lineouts and is one of the more creative second rowers in the game, often linking with the backs and creating opportunities for the men on the outside - men like Habana.

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