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Duane Vermeulen Leads The Pack At The 4th Annual Brightrock Players Choice Awards

Posted on 12 Mar, 21 by BrightRock

Duane Vermeulen Leads The Pack At The 4th Annual Brightrock Players Choice Awards

A sports team cannot be successful without a joint effort to achieve a positive result. And, just as a rugby team needs the efforts of every teammate to fulfil its mission, it also needs opponents. In 2020, rugby players, like other sportspeople, faced some of their toughest opponents yet: the pandemic, a more intense schedule and the absence of spectators. But amidst all of this, the players never quit; instead, they displayed immense resilience and endurance.

Bearing this in mind, the fourth Annual BrightRock Players Choice Awards are all the more important, given the tough environment of 2020. These awards, in partnership with MyPlayers, honour and recognise the commitment, determination and talent of South African rugby players. The winners are decided by their peers – South Africa’s professional rugby players – in a voting process that is facilitated by MyPlayers, the South African professional rugby players’ organisation.

After this year’s votes were counted, Springbok stalwart and Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen came out tops, beating his fellow nominees to win the coveted 2020 Players’ Player of the Year award, as well as the Forward Player of the Year award, both of which were won by Pieter-Steph du Toit in 2019. The  title of Players’ Player of the Year is awarded to the player selected by their peers as the best rugby player of the year. A week ago, Vermeulen was named SA Rugby Player of the Year, and this is the second time, including 2014, that he receives South Africa’s two most coveted player awards in a single year.

“Duane Vermeulen had an amazing season, despite the barriers presented by the pandemic, and his two awards reflect this. On behalf of MyPlayers, we would like to congratulate all the winners who contributed to the game and entertained us with the great rugby that they have played this past season. Rugby remains one of the most popular sports in our country, and we are fortunate to have a committed partner in BrightRock that makes it possible for the players to have this platform where they can recognise their peers. Many thanks to BrightRock and our MyPlayers team for the great work they have done over the last four years to produce these awards,” said Eugene Henning, Chief Executive Officer of MyPlayers.

As the winner of two categories, Vermeulen pledged his total winnings of R10 000 to the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund.“Assisting those in need is something close to my heart, and I couldn’t think of a better way to assist those in need than donating my total winnings to the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund, which has been rugby’s caring hand for over 40 years. My donation is a small token of appreciation and an opportunity to thank the Players’ Fund for the pivotal role they play, in caring for the South African’s who suffer life-changing injuries through rugby. Hopefully, my donation can make a change in one person’s life,”Vermeulen said.

The other winners who best played the bounce during this challenging season and received the recognition of their peers are:

  • Defender of the Year – Lukhanyo Am  
  • Best off the Bench – Morné van den Berg
  • Backline Player of the Year – Wandisile Simelane
  • The LoveChange Award (for the most improved player) – Vincent Tshituka

BrightRock Deputy CEO, Suzanne Stevens, says, “One thing South Africans know is how to stand strong when it comes to change. At BrightRock, we believe that with all change, there is an opportunity. Being able to ‘love change’ is a skill we as South Africans possess, we’re naturally a ‘change fit’ bunch! That is why these awards are important and a necessity during these unprecedented times. They are our way of honouring our players for their resilience and for inspiring us amid all the changes that are happening in the world today.”

Sport, which is inherently unpredictable, provides the perfect platform to share the message of embracing change and tackling the unexpected head-on. In BrightRock’s partnership with MyPlayers, the power of sport to drive positive change has been harnessed by acknowledging the amazing triumphs made by South Africa’s top rugby talent.

The BrightRock Players Choice Awards Categories

All nominations were compiled by the MyPlayers Board, their Trustees and player representatives, and the winners of each category were selected by the players. The winner in each category also earns the charity of his choice a R5 000 donation, funded from the players’ collective commercial rights income and managed by MyPlayers.

Defender of the Year

Winner: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks)    


  • Jeandré Rudolph (Cheetahs)
  • Andisa Ntsila (Cheetahs)
  • Steven Kitshoff (Stormers/WP)       
  • Best off the Bench                                      

Winner: Morné van den Berg (Lions)        


  • Thembelani Bholi (Sharks)
  • Arno Botha (Bulls)
  • Sintu Manjezi (Bulls)
  • Forward Player of the Year                         

Winner: Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)


  • Steven Kitshoff (Bulls)
  • Jeandré Rudolph (Cheetahs)
  • Marco van Staden (Bulls)
  • Backline Player of the Year                         

Winner: Wandisile Simelane (Lions)


  • Cornal Hendricks (Bulls)
  • Frans Steyn (Cheetahs)
  • Curwin Bosch (Sharks)
  • The LoveChange Award

Winner: Vincent Tshituka (Lions)


  • Stedman Gans (Bulls)
  • Tiaan Swanepoel (Lions)
  • Dylan Richardson (Sharks)
  • Players’ Player of the Year                          

Winner: Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)


  • Frans Steyn (Cheetahs)
  • Cornal Hendricks (Bulls)
  • Curwin Bosch (Sharks)


Issued by BrightRock in partnership with MyPlayers

About BrightRock

BrightRock is a disrupter in the South African life insurance market, offering clients and financial advisers’ solutions that can be co-created to precisely meet their needs. BrightRock’s world-first, needs-matched individual life insurance cover matches each client’s specific needs on day one of their policy and can change over time as their needs change. By matching a client’s cover to their changing needs over time, BrightRock cuts out unnecessary waste, delivering significantly more cover (up to double) for the same premium. BrightRock also operates in the group risk market, where it has extended its proprietary needs-matched product design to the employee benefits market. And in the funeral insurance market, BrightRock partners with large funeral parlour businesses around South Africa, providing underwriting and other insurance services. BrightRock Life Ltd is a licensed financial services provider and insurer. Company registration no: 1996/014618/06, FSP 11643. Terms and conditions apply.

About MyPlayers

MyPlayers is the official organisation of the professional rugby players in South Africa. The organisation is 100% owned by the players and they play a key leadership role in determining the general strategy and vision. The organisation currently represents all the professional rugby players in South Africa, providing player-driven solutions to improve the lives of their members. This varies from support with managing their rights, finding suitable medical cover, all the way to assisting with their career development.

Visit the MyPlayers website at www.myplayers.co.za and follow their social media pages at:

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