Nortje made his Blitzbok debut in Dubai at the start of the season and has gone on to score an impressive 18 tries in six tournaments, which earned him the nomination.

“I did not expect to be nominated at all; I was trying to do my job for the team in my first year on the sevens circuit,” said Nortje from Madrid, where the HSBC SVNS season concluded on Sunday.

“It was nice being nominated and recognized for doing my job and to honest, I was thrilled to be competing for the same prize as one of the very best players in the world.”

Nortje, who finished the season as the Blitzboks’ leading try-scorer, said he will remember the season fondly, despite missing out on the North American leg of the series, when a hamstring injury prevented him from travelling to Vancouver and Los Angeles.

“It was everything I expected from the World Series, and more,” he said.

“The quality of play, the speed and intensity, and the thrill of playing for your country, everything happened as I anticipated and it’s something I will remember for a long time. To be able to play with and against some of the best players in the world is exactly what I train for.”

Nortje calls out his first try – against Canada in his debut match in the opening tournament in Dubai – as the special one, despite some pretty remarkable finishes with other tries as well.

“That very first try in my Blitzbok jersey was such a special feeling – just talking about it now gives me goose bumps all over again,” he said.

“It was such a great moment for me. I loved the Dubai tournament as well, as we won, and it was on debut. Nothing tops Cape Town though, we were playing in front of our own fans, that is special.”

Selvyn Davids on the charge against Australia.

Selvyn Davids on the charge against Australia.

Nortje's 90 points scored was the most of any Blitzbok for the season, followed by Selvyn Davids on 78. Davids took over the captaincy of the side at the beginning of the season when Siviwe Soyizwapi was ruled out with injury and was another who stood out for the Blitzboks in a season that delivered few highlights.

The tournament win in Dubai remains the highlight for the year as the team failed to reach another final. The subsequent replacement of Sandile Ngcobo as head coach brought some respite as the team topped their pools in Hong Kong and Singapore after Philip Snyman took over the reins, but fifth-place finishes were the best they could do.

Nortje, Katlego Letebele, Tristan Leyds and David Brits were the debutants capped for the Blitzboks in the 2024 season.