News: Free State Cheetahs Captain Francois Venter walked off with the Player of the Year award at their annual award ceremony in Bloemfontein.
Venter represented the Cheetahs in 13 matches in 2016 bringing his career total to 45. He scored three tries during the season. Venter represented the Springbok A-side in the two matches against the Saxons.
He played in six Currie Cup matches and captained the side in the Currie Cup semi-final and final.
Venter was selected for the Springbok end of year tour and made his debut for the National side on November 12, 2016, against England. He represented the Springboks in three matches.
Other big winners of the day were Raymond Rhule and Uzair Cassiem.
Rhule received the award for the Cheetahs Super Rugby Player of the Year. Rhule made his Super Rugby debut in 2013 against the Sharks and went on to play 52 games for the Cheetahs of which he played 15 in 2016.
Cassiem received the Free State Cheetah’s Player’s Player of the Year award. The players voted for this award themselves. Cassiem made his Super Rugby debut against the Jaguares and went on to play in all 15 Super Rugby matches for the team, 30 points during the competition. He played in 10 Currie Cup matches, including the semifinal and final and was a named “Man of the Match” in the Currie Cup final. He scored 20 points during the season. Cassiem was chosen for the Springbok end of year tour and made his Springbok debut against Wales on November 26, 2016.
The award for the Free State Cheetahs Currie Cup Player of the Year – Ox Nche. Ox made is Currie Cup debut against Boland and went on to play in 10 more matches, including the semifinal and final. He scored 10 points during the season.
The award for the Free State Cheetahs Under-19 Player of the Year went to Kwenzo Blose. Kwenzo played a total of 10 games for the Free State Cheetahs U19 team in the 2016 competition. He missed the first three games of the campaign due to national duties at the U20 World Cup in England where he played a significant role in the success of the Junior Springbok team. Blose represented the Junior Boks in matches against Japan and Argentina. He also represented the University of the Free State Young Guns Team. Kwenzo has been included in the Junior Springbok squad yet again for the 2017 campaign.
Jasper Wiese earned the award as Free State Cheetahs U21 Player of the Year. Wiese captained the Free State U21 team in 2016 and played in a total of 11 matches. He also represented the Free State XV in nine matches in the Currie Cup Qualifying round and played for CUT in the 2016 Varsity Cup competition.
His exceptional performance for the Free State XV in the Currie Cup Qualifying round earned Joseph the Toyota Free State XV Player of the Year for 2016. Dweba who is currently included in the Cheetah Super Rugby squad represented the Free State XV in nine Currie Cup Qualifier matches. He also played in three matches for the Free State Cheetahs U21 team.
Two new awards were introduced, namely the Prof Basie Verster Award for Forward of the Year and the Harold Verster Award for the Backline Player of the Year. Cassiem received the Prof. Basie Verster Award for Forward of the Year and Venter received the Harold Verster Award for Backline Player of the Year.
Four Free State Cheetah players were capped. To qualify for Free State Cheetah colours, a player has to play in six consecutive Currie Cup matches or in 10 Currie Cup matches in total for the team. At a different occasion, a couple of players were already capped in 2016. Four players qualified in the meantime and they are Justin Basson, Tom Botha, Johan Coetzee and William Small-Smith.