Jantjies headlines nominees for World Rugby breakthrough player award

Springbok scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies has been nominated as one of three contenders for the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award.

The Stormers and Boks scrummie has been nominated alongside England wing Joe Cokanasiga and flyhalf Romain Ntamack of France for the prestigious award, which is now in its fifth year. The winner will be named in Tokyo on Sunday at the World Rugby Awards.

Another Springbok in line for the award

Jantjies has the chance to make it two in two for the Springboks in this category after Aphiwe Dyantyi claimed the honour last year.

In their nomination, World Rugby said of Jantjies:

“Few people knew anything about the diminutive scrum-half outside of the Stormers camp coming into 2019, but he announced himself to the world in some style, scoring twice on his test debut against Australia in the Rugby Championship in July and then touching down again in the 16-16 draw with New Zealand. The 23-year-old has featured in all but one of South Africa’s tests since, more often than not providing an impact off the bench.”

Jantjies scored his fourth test try in the 41-7 win over Japan at the beginning of September and has made nine test appearances in all. The only Springbok match he has missed this season was the 24-18 win over Argentina in Pretoria when he was injured. He played a big role in helping the Springboks secure a maiden Rugby Championship title earlier this season.

190727AllBlacksvSouthAfricaRV 048 - Jantjies headlines nominees for World Rugby breakthrough player award
South Africa’s Herschel Jantjies scores a last-gasp try during the 2019 Rugby Championship match between The All Blacks and the Springboks in Wellington. Photo: Raghavan Venugopal / Photosport.nz

To be eligible for the award, players must be in their debut season of senior international rugby. 

The judging panel is made up of Springbok legend Bryan Habana and former internationals Jamie Heaslip, Felipe Contepomi and Fiao’o Faamausili.

Jantjies has some competition

Cokanasiga announced himself on the international stage with a try on debut against Japan at Twickenham last November and has scored seven in his nine tests in the England jersey. He has found opportunities limited at the Rugby World Cup but has made a sensational start to his international career.

Ntamack was a World Rugby U20 Championship winner in 2018 and has graduated at just 20 to be the youngest member of France’s RWC 2019 squad. He made his debut at centre in the Six Nations opener against Wales in February but has now made the fly-half berth his own, starting eight of his 12 tests there, including three in Japan. He is the son of RWC 1999 runner-up Émile.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award recognises the most exciting talent to burst onto the international 15s or sevens stage during the year and highlights the ‘ones to watch’.

“There were several outstanding candidates and the process of selecting the shortlist was tough for the panel. We have three outstanding candidates, who would be worthy recipients of this prestigious award.”

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