May 06, 2017
Michael Rhodes awarded players' player of the year at end of season awards
On Saturday evening Mike Rhodes was named as the Richard Hill Players’ Player of the season for the 2016/2017 campaign at the Big Bash.
The 29-year-old has been ever present for the Men in Black this season as they challenge to defend the double Rhodes played a crucial role in securing last season. His performances in the back-row, and occasionally at lock, have been the epitome of consistency and have shown what a valuable asset the South African has become since joining from the Stormers in 2015.
Born on 19 December 1987, he was educated at the prestigious Michaelhouse School before attending the University of South Africa in Durban. His senior rugby career began in 2008 with the Natal Sharks where he won the prestigious Currie Cup in 2008 and 2010. Having not featured for the Sharks Super Rugby side he made the move to play for the Lions from the start of the 2011 season. Here, he made 9 appearances in his first season for the Lions Super Rugby franchise as well as winning a third Currie Cup of a bourgeoning career for the Golden Lions provincial side.
Rhodes joined the Stormers franchise in 2013 where he made 26 Super Rugby appearances in three seasons, as well as playing 22 times for the provincial Western Province side. In 2014, he was named as the most promising forward at the Western Province awards after he once again helped the team to Currie Cup glory in 2014, his fourth win in the competition. In addition to Currie Cup glory he made nine appearances as the Stormers topped the South African Conference in 2015’s Super Rugby season to add to a career already laden with numerous honours.
He left in 2015 to join Saracens ahead of the 2015/2016 season. He quickly became a fan favourite as an ever-present cog in the dominant double winning team. He started both the Champions Cup final as well as the Aviva Premiership final, establishing his credentials as one of the finest forwards playing in Europe today. In the 2015/2016 season he made 27 appearances in all competitions and cemented his place as a fan favourite, a beacon of quality and consistency. He has also embodied the virtues of Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate in exemplary fashion throughout his time with the club, becoming a popular figure on and off the pitch.
The 2016/2017 season has seen Rhodes’ performances go from strength to strength as he has become a crucial player at the club. He now has 38 Premiership appearances under his belt, starting 31 and winning a remarkable 29 games in just two years. He has developed a penchant for popping up with big hits when it matters most. Most notably in January with a try-saving against Exeter to earn a crucial draw against title rivals having spent 70 minutes down to 10-men. A second monumental moment came just two weeks later against Toulon where he made another vital try-saving tackle to secure a narrow 10-3 win. He added a Derby Day try against Quins at Wembley in April to endear himself to the Sarries faithful even further. After a massive season, there is no doubt that Rhodes is deserving of the award that marks him out as one of Saracens’ finest.