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Springbok centre honoured to win players' player of the year award

By PA
(Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

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Harlequins centre Andre Esterhuizen has won the Rugby Players’ Association players’ player of the year award.

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Esterhuizen polled the highest number of votes from his fellow professionals, having enjoyed an outstanding season during Quins’ bid to defend the Gallagher Premiership title.

The South African has proved a pivotal figure in them reaching next month’s play-offs, when they will meet Leicester or Saracens.

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“It is an incredible honour to win this award and for it to be voted by all the players and teams that I’ve played with and against makes it even more special,” Esterhuizen said.

Leicester and England full-back Freddie Steward, meanwhile, claimed an awards double.

He was named young player of the year, beating Quins fly-half Marcus Smith, London Irish back Henry Arundell and Sale Sharks prop Bevan Rodd.

Steward, 21, also won England men’s player of the year ahead of Smith and his Leicester team-mate Ellis Genge.

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Steward, who made his England debut last summer, said: “It is a big honour to win an award voted on by your peers, and I feel humbled to win, given the talent in the game.”

Marlie Packer won the England women’s player of the year award, while Quins scrum-half Danny Care took the RPA’s special merit award.

Elsewhere, the RPA’s Blyth Spirit award went to Kevin Sinfield and Andrew Fenby, former England women’s star Katy Daley-McLean was inducted into the RPA’s hall of fame and Leicester wing Chris Ashton breaking the Premiership’s all-time try-scoring record was voted moment of the season.

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