2017 Ruggas Player of the Year – Cristen van Niekerk

 

In 2016 Cristen's dream of playing for the Monnas 1stXV came true when he was selected as #7 flank for the year.  He was selected to play for the Lions u/18 Academy Week team as the 8th man. Due to an injury to a player in the 2016 u/18 Craven Week Team, he was selected as a substitute lock.

During the off-season, Cristen started to experience pain in his lower back. Doctors and physios all stated that it is just a muscle spasm and he continued exercising. The new season started and it was decided to consult a Neurosurgeon in January as the pain increased. An MRI scan showed that he had a bulge in his lower back spine which pressed against a nerve causing the pain and limiting the use of his left leg. After further consultation with the

After his return from the Saru High-Performance camp, Cristen was cleared to start with light exercise and told him that he should be able to play at Easter already. Although not playing for the Monnas Witbulle he started training with them in order to join the squad after Easter. A week before the Easter festival at Kearsney Cristen was asked to go with the Monnas squad to the festival. All hopes and dreams were alive again. Due to Kwagga still busy with rehab he trained with the squad but also had to train on his own. Kwagga then played 7 games from the bench before he got his 1

Christen then played 7 games from the bench before he got his 1st start for the Monnas Witbulle. The rest is as they say history. Christen was selected for the Lions CW team and hard at work towards his next goal, selection as a player for the u/18 SA Schools side. During the u/19 International series was the star of the u/18 SA Schools side which made this award an easy decision.

Cristen was also awarded 2017 Rugby Player of the Year at the prize giving of Monument Hoërskool last night.