Lock Eben Etzebeth has earned a place on the EPCR Player of the Year 2023 longlist after a stellar Heineken Champions Cup pool stage campaign for debutants Cell C Sharks.
The World Cup-winning South African joined the Durban-based side last summer and was a mainstay of their team as they finished third in Pool A in their maiden EPCR season.
Etzebeth was a colossal figure in the pack as Cell C Sharks marched to three wins from four, and capped a quartet of committed performances with a smartly-taken try at Harlequins in Round 4.
Prior to his move back to his homeland, Etzebeth was at RC Toulon, but he only turned out once in the Heineken Champions Cup for the TOP 14 heavyweights, with the rest of his EPCR appearances coming in the Challenge Cup.
However, the 31-year-old has looked at home in EPCR’s elite competition and will continue to be an integral part of the Cell C Sharks team as they look to overcome Munster Rugby in a blockbuster Round of 16 contest at Hollywoodbets Kings Park on April 1.
YOUR EPCR PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES 📢
Agree with the judges' selection based on the #HeinekenChampionsCup pool stages?#EPOTY2023 voting is now open ➡️ https://t.co/98en54jQCn pic.twitter.com/RiJoJdaaab
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) February 1, 2023
2023 EPCR PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Grégory ALLDRITT (Stade Rochelais)
Gavin COOMBES (Munster Rugby)
Caelan DORIS (Leinster Rugby)
Elliot DALY (Saracens)
Antoine DUPONT (Stade Toulousain)
Eben ETZEBETH (Cell C Sharks)
Jaden HENDRIKSE (Cell C Sharks)
Siya KOLISI (Cell C Sharks)
Makazole MAPIMPI (Cell C Sharks)
Julien MARCHAND (Stade Toulousain)
Emmanuel MEAFOU (Stade Toulousain)
Jamie OSBORNE (Leinster Rugby)
Garry RINGROSE (Leinster Rugby)
Justin TIPURIC (Ospreys)
Josh VAN DER FLIER (Leinster Rugby)
Judging Panel – Bryan Habana (two-time Heineken Champions Cup winner), Sarah Hunter (former England captain), Elma Smit (sports presenter and producer), Andy Goode (two-time Heineken Cup winner), Dimitri Yachvili (France Télévisions and Challenge Cup winner)
Roll of Honour – 2022: Josh van der Flier (Leinster Rugby) ; 2021: Antoine Dupont (Stade Toulousain) ; 2020: Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs); 2019: Alex Goode (Saracens); 2018: Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92); 2017: Owen Farrell (Saracens); 2016: Maro Itoje (Saracens); 2015: Nick Abendanon (ASM Clermont Auvergne); 2014: Steffon Armitage (RC Toulon); 2013: Jonny Wilkinson (RC Toulon); 2012: Rob Kearney (Leinster Rugby); 2011: Sean O’Brien (Leinster Rugby); 2010: Ronan O’Gara (Munster Rugby – best player of first 15 years of European professional club competitions)