Quintin van Jaarsveld
Donovan Horne cleaned up at the recent Riversmead South Coast Warriors awards function at Douglas Mitchell.
The evening saw the Uvongo-based club celebrate one of their best years ever and acknowledge the prolific performers of 2018.
Star centre Horne, who missed last season with a serious knee injury, came back with a bang and scooped the prestigious Player of the Year award.
“I feel incredibly privileged to win this award as it is the highest achievement at the club. A lot of great players have won this award, and to add my name to that list is very special to me,” Horne told eHowzit.
“It’s a huge honour and proud moment for me. Missing out last season was very frustrating, so coming back this year and just playing rugby with a great group of guys was something special.
“Thanks to all my team mates and the coaching staff for believing in me as well as my friends and loved ones for supporting me over the years. Without them, I could not have won this prestigious award,” he added.
The hard-hitting No 12 was also named Players’ Player of the Year and Best Defender of the Year.
The skilful and physical midfielder started playing rugby at the age of six at Pinetown Junior Rugby Club before moving to the South Coast and playing for Suid-Natal.
He represented Southern KwaZulu-Natal junior teams while at school and joined the Warriors as a junior. He enhanced his game at the Sharks Academy in Durban for a year, during which he learned a lot said Horne, and ran out for the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Under-20s.
Horne, a constable by profession, has been playing for the Warriors first XV since 2014 and the KwaZulu-Natal police team since 2016, and was this year selected for the SAPS National Presidential team.
The 25-year-old served as vice-captain of the Warriors this season, and also led the side to a record fifth consecutive Usher Cup title.
The Warriors were nearly unbeatable in 2018, suffering just a solitary defeat in their dominant and historic league campaign.
“It was a long, hard season but everyone was up for it from the get go. We played some great rugby at times and got stronger as the season went on,” said Horne.
“Obviously, the loss against Hillcrest was a bitter pill to swallow, but credit has to go the boys and the coaching staff for how we bounced back and won every game after that to clinch the league. Our home support this year was fantastic, so credit to all our loyal supporters.”
Reflecting on the highlights of the season, Horne said, “It was pretty special when I stood in as captain for the Usher Cup and winning it for the fifth time in a row and of course, winning the Dewar Shield final at Kings Park.”
Horne was also one of nine players who played in all tournament finals this season along with player/coach Juan van den Berg, Msizi Mzindle, Tian Malherbe, Dawie Durrheim, Chris Sharpe, Brandt Fields, Lunga Madlala and Lourens Stapelberg.
Captain Chris Mitchell, who switched between his regular position of scrumhalf, hooker and loose forward, was named All-Round Player of the Year.
Mdlala scooped two awards – the Most Improved and Most Dedicated Player of the Year gongs, Fields was the Top Point-Scorer of the Year and manager Francois Slippers was named Stirrer of the Year.
Cameron Camp clinched the Newcomer of the Year award while Devan van Eeden was voted Sevens Player of the Year.
As always, second team players were also rewarded for their endeavour this season.
Nhlanhla Lushaba won the Player of the Year award, Schalk Pienaar received the All-Round Player of the Year accolade, Christian Venter was voted Most Promising Player of the Year, Lu-Shayne Marais was the Most Dedicated Player of the Year and coach Gromingo Mzunga was the Stirrer of the Year.
Newcomer of the Year Camp claimed his second major gong when he was acknowledged as the Under-20 Player of the Year.
The other Under-20 award winners were Graeme Bester (Most Valuable Player of the Year), Diego Storm (All-Round Player of the Year), Luwazi Madiba (Most Improved Player of the Year) and Wessel Strydom (Stirrer of the Year).