Each and every year that goes by, we get to meet newcomers in the sporting world. Some of them are immediately like ducks to water and are leading lights in world sport. Those are the few that we would like to highlight now. The top 10 newcomers to sport in 2012.
10. Matthew Guise-Brown
When Justin Reid-Ross decides to hang up his stick, South African hockey will be okay. You see, in GB we have a young drag flicker that has the ability to develop into a world class flicker and with the tutelage of JRR he may very well overtake the current South African Superstar. GB was a big part of the African Qualifier team that emerged victorious against Egypt to qualify for the World Cup and subsequently got his first cap in the Champions Challenge in Argentina as well as his first goal.
9. Izelle Lategan
Izelle made a name for herself this year when she broke into the national squad under Giles Bonnet and scored a thrilling hat-trick in the 3-2 win over India at the Champions Challenge in Dublin. She then captained the South African team to the U21 World Cup leading from the front as she topped the scoring charts. South Africa may have found their answer to the question of what happens when Pietie retires.
8. Raymond Rhule
The Cheetahs winger was the highlight of a very poor Currie Cup Season for the Bloemfontein based franchise. He was the top try scorer of the Currie Cup and this ultimately meant that he got called up to the Springboks for the undefeated year end tour. He may not have got a cap yet, but the exciting runner can play at wing or centre and is surely one good SupeRugby season away from his first cap. Long may he stay in Free State.
7. Dean Furman
A duck to water has been the most appropriate description of Dean Furman and his adaptation to International football for Bafana. Furman has really adapted to playing for Bafana and Igesund will be relying on him to carry the ship in the absence of previous captain Steven Pienaar at the upcoming AFCON. This is a role that Furman will thrive in as he hopes to lead South Africa to the continental title for the first time since 1996.
6. Richard Murray
Richard Murray burst onto the triathlon seen this eyar in a show of pure class. The 23 year old moved onto the world stage in style this year with a class winning the African Continental Championship, a huge win in Hamburg in July, a very credible 17th place at the Olympic Games and going on to win in Hanover. He was also nominated for the SA Sports Award newcomer of the year and so is a worthy inclusion in this list.
5. Faf du Plessis
Although Faf has been around for a few years, and as a Titans fan we have seen his class for a few years already, but his newcomer ability is down to his emergence as a test star for South Africa in Australia. His match saving effort in the second test set up a series victory for South Africa that helped the Proteas secure their number 1 ranking. After his 2 test matches he averages an incredible 146.50.
4. Siya Kolisi
The SA Sports Awards Newcomer of the year was an incredible performer for the Stormers this year. As a result his exclusion from the Tri-nations team caused a lot of upset. Siya has a long future in SA Rugby and his brute force and strength again shows the depth of talent that South Africa possess in the loose forward position. And it is incredible to think that with that depth, after just one season Siya is pushing established heads out of the way.
3. Bridgitte Hartley
The South African Bronze medalist at the Olympics is an All Things Jabu favourite and she richely deserves it. The kayak champion was a surprise medalist for South Africa but has become a household name. Her brilliant fight back to steal the third positon and South Africa’s fifth medal at that stage was unforgettable and Bridgitte could well be poised to once again represent South Africa at Rio in 2016.
2. Eben Etzebeth
The South African Rugby player of the year, the 20 year old made his debut in June 2012 against the English and has already gone on to amass 11 caps. His inclusion, brutality and sheer ability have seen the missing Bakkies Botha not exactly missed that much. In Etzebeth and Bekker we have a lock combination that has the ability to rival the legendary Matfield and Botha combination.
1. Branden Grace
The 24 year old South African is already a superstar and he has a brilliant 2012 to thank for that. In January we won the Joburg Open to give him his first win on the European tour, a week later he beat SA legends Els and Goosen in a playoff to win the Volvo Champion. In April he won his third title joining the likes of Seve Ballesteros as a triple winner in the first year after qualifying school. He then won his fourth European title in October at the Alfred Dunhill Links. He moved up to 37th in the World and won the Sunshine Tour order of merit. To cap off a sensational year, Branden is the ATJ Newcomer of the Year 2012.