Quintin van Jaarsveld
Joseph du Preez was the big winner at the Riversmead South Coast Warriors awards function at Douglas Mitchell Sports Grounds on Friday evening.
The Uvongo-based club reflected on the positives and awarded the standout performers of the season in typically festive fashion.
Star loose forward Du Preez has been a revelation this season and scooped the prestigious Player of the Year award.
“It’s a great feeling and I’m very honoured to have received the award,” he told eHowzit.
Equally adept at flank and eighthman, Du Preez has come through the Warriors ranks since moving to the South Coast from his native Zimbabwe in 2015. It was clear from his maiden season at the club that year that he was a special talent as he produced consistently high-quality performances for the Under-20s.
His work rate both on the field and in training led to him being instilled as captain for the latter half of the season as well as for most of the 2016 season.
This was his first season of first XV rugby, a baptism of fire for most tasked with making the step-up, especially when that step-up is to the premier club rugby competition in the province.
The Warriors are one of the so-called minnows in the Fidelity Security Premier Division, where powerhouses like Durban Collegians and 2017 champions College Rovers rule the roost with enviable depth and resources.
It’s a different breed of player; more skillful, intense, dedicated, hard-nosed and better conditioned. However, Du Preez fitted right in. The Viking Christian Rugby Academy ace was a shining light for his side and his fantastic form saw him being selected for Southern KwaZulu-Natal, who went on to reclaim the Ebbo Bastard trophy.
Looking back on the year, Du Preez said, “The highlight for me was probably winning the South Coast Sevens tournament in the beginning of the year and playing for Southern KZN.”
Captain Chris Mitchell led from the front in the No 9 jersey all season and was subsequently named Players’ Player of the Year, while Tienie Viljoen won the All-Round Player of the Year award.
The rookie awards went to Jayden Onkers (Best New Player of the Year) and Damian May (Most Promising Player of the Year).
May, a powerful hooker whose speed and mobility essentially make him a fourth loose forward, played Craven Week for Griffons in 2013 and went on to represent the Under-19s. He then featured for the Cheetahs Under-21s before relocating to the South Coast earlier this year.
“I’m very happy to win this award – it means a lot to me,” he told eHowzit. “I really enjoy playing for the Warriors; there’s a great vibe in the club. Making the Southern KZN side was a big achievement for me and scoring a try in the final was special.”
Bentum van der Westhuizen bagged two awards, the most improved and most dedicated gongs, flyhalf Jaques Petzer-Moore was the Top Point-Scorer of the Year and Dawie Durheim was named Stirrer of the Year.
Second team players were also rewarded for their endeavour this season. Lunga Madlala won the Player of the Year award, Nhlanhla Lushaba was acknowledged as the All-Round Player of the Year and Lourens Kruger clinched the Most Dedicated Player of the Year award, while coach Pieter Smith was presented with the President’s award for his hard work throughout the year.
In the Under-20 ranks, Sibisiso Mkize came away with the Player of the Year award, Luyanda Sithole was named Most Valuable Player of the Year and Duan Potgieter won the All-Round Player of the Year award.