Triple treat for the Lions

SANELE Nohamba of the Emirates Lions was honoured as the URC Player of the Season on Tuesday. Supplied

SANELE Nohamba of the Emirates Lions was honoured as the URC Player of the Season on Tuesday. Supplied

Published Jun 19, 2024


Mike Greenaway

YESTERDAY was a red letter day for the Lions trio of Edwill van der Merwe, Jordan Hendrikse and Sanele Nohamba, with the former pair announced in the Springbok team to play Wales on Saturday, and the latter crowned South Africa’s United Rugby Championship Player of the Season.

Winger Van der Merwe will make his debut for the Boks and he said he will be playing for the rugby-mad community in his hometown of Kylemore, near Stellenbosch.

“I come from a small town where everyone is crazy about rugby,” Van der Merwe said.

“(Fellow Bok) Herschell Jantjies is also from Kylemore and when the Boks won the 2019 World Cup, he had his own trophy tour. I was in the crowd on the streets of Kylemore as he was driven through with the World Cup on the back of a bakkie.”

Van der Merwe said that inspired him to work harder to become a Bok one day.

“It has taken me some time to get this opportunity, but I had faith that one day it would come,” he said.

“I have to grab it with both hands on the weekend and make my hometown proud.

“Since I got the call-up to the Bok camp, the town has been sending me messages. The primary school kids made little posters for me. On Saturday I carry the people of my community on my shoulders and I do so with pride.”

EDWILL van der Merwe will earn his Test debut on Saturday against Wales. BackpagePix

During the Lions’ URC campaign, Van der Merwe was often the beneficiary of creative play by Nohamba, who starred at scrumhalf and flyhalf while also proving to be an accurate goal-kicker.

Nohamba would likely have joined Van der Merwe in the Bok squad had he not suffered concussion.

The 25-year-old Nohamba follows in the footsteps of Stormers duo Evan Roos and Manie Libbok, who won the award in the first two seasons of the URC.

The other 2024 nominees were the Bulls’ Cameron Hanekom (loose forward) and Kurt-Lee Arendse (wing).

Nohamba started 17 of the Lions’ 18 games in 2023/24. He scored two tries and added 32 conversions, 14 penalty goals, and a drop goal for a personal tally of 119 points during the season, which placed him fourth overall after the league phase of the competition.

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander congratulated Nohamba on his exceptional season, which also earned him an invitation to the Springbok alignment camps.

“It’s often said that there is no more space in our game for players who are smaller in stature, but Sanele has disproved that assumption,” Alexander said.

“What he lacks in size, he makes up for in skill, heart, and temperament. This award is a testament to his remarkable attitude. Sanele adapted seamlessly from scrumhalf to flyhalf and excelled in the No 10 jersey, catching the attention of (Bok head coach) Rassie Erasmus.”

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