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Eben Etzebeth one of four Sharks players up for European POTY award

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

The three South African franchises certainly made their presence felt recently in the Heineken Champions Cup pool stages as all three advanced to the round of 16 knockout stage. That collective prominence has now been recognised on an individual basis as four Cell C Sharks players – including Eben Etzebeth – have been named on the 15-strong longlist for the 2023 EPCR player of the year award.


Etzebeth and his Durban-based Sharks finished third in Pool A, defeating Bordeaux twice and Harlequins once en route to securing a round of 16 home match versus Munster on April 1. That effort has resulted in Jaden Hendrikse, Siya Kolisi and Makazole Mapimpi joining Etzebeth on a longlist where their club had the joint most representation along with Leinster.

Last year’s beaten finalists, who qualified at the top of Pool A following four bonus-point victories over Racing 92 and Gloucester, had Caelan Doris, rookie Jamie Osborne, Garry Ringrose and current world player of the year Josh van der Flier named on the award list.

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Warren Gatland explains not including Liam Williams to start against Ireland rugby
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Warren Gatland explains not including Liam Williams to start against Ireland rugby

Next-best were Toulouse, the 2021 Champions Cup champions, with three nominations in Antoine Dupont, Julien Marchand and Emmanuel Meafou. The four remaining award contenders were Gregory Alldritt from La Rochelle, the reigning European champions, Munster’s Gavin Coombes, Saracens’ Elliot Daly and Ospreys’ Justin Tipuric.

An EPCR statement read: “The winner of the award, which is now in its 13th year, will receive the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy in memory of the former Munster Rugby head coach and captain. Voting is now open (click here) and fans will be in the running to win two VIP tickets with one night’s accommodation for the 2024 Heineken Champions Cup Final in May 2024.


“At the conclusion of the semi-final matches in April, the list will be reduced to five players by a combination of the public vote and the verdict of the judges, and players who have not been included in the initial longlist, but who make a significant impact during the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup, may be considered for the shortlist.


“The voting will then re-open and the winner of the 2023 award will be announced following the Heineken Champions Cup final at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, May 20.”

Gregory 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)


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