All Blacks stars vying for top gong
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: New Zealand Rugby has announced the finalists for the upcoming national rugby awards, along with a couple of tweaks to the categories.
World Cup stars Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs) and Ardie Savea (Hurricanes) have all been nominated for All Blacks Player of the Year while Black Ferns Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury), Ayesha Leti-I’iga (Wellington) and Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland) are all up for Black Ferns Player of the Year.
From the World Sevens Series circuits, Dylan Collier (Waikato), Andrew Knewstubb (Horowhenua Kapiti), Tone Ng Shiu (Tasman), Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty), Sarah Hirini (Manawatu), and Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland) have been nominated for their respective All Blacks Sevens Player of the Year and Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year awards.
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An unprecedented Championship-winning year sees the Tasman Mako nominated for the National team of the Year, alongside Farah Palmer Cup champions Canterbury, and Super Rugby winners the Crusaders.
Those teams also secured National Coach of the Year nominations for Tasman’s co-coaches Andrew Goodman and Clarke Dermody, Canterbury’s Farah Palmer Cup-winning coach Kieran Kite, and three-peat Crusaders’ Coach Scott Robertson.
The All Blacks, Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens have been nominated for the New Zealand Team of the Year award.
Outstanding form in 2019 sees Scott Barrett (Crusaders), Ardie Savea (Hurricanes), and Brad Weber (Chiefs) nominated for Super Rugby Player of the Year, and Māori All Blacks skipper Ash Dixon (Ngāti Tahinga), Black Ferns skipper Sarah Hirini (Ngāti Kahungunu), and All Blacks scrumhalf TJ Perenara (Te Arawa / Ngāti Rangitihi ) are nominated for the Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year.
While the first woman to referee in the Mitre 10 Cup Rebecca Mahoney (Wairarapa) is up against stiff competition from Rugby World Cup referees Ben O’Keeffe (Wellington) and Paul Williams (Taranaki).
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New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said: “Congratulations to all those nominated for awards. Every year, the ASB Rugby Awards is an opportunity for us to celebrate excellence, perseverance, success and triumph. It’s also important to acknowledge those volunteers who keep the game alive in the community through their dedication, hard work and tenacity. These are the attitudes that are important to any rugby team.
“As the game grows and we see the support and growth of our other teams in black, it has become appropriate to acknowledge them separately for the contributions they make to their specific part of rugby.
“The All Blacks continue to be an important global figure for us, and the Black Ferns are driving real growth in the game in New Zealand and overseas. The globe-trotting Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens teams are now popular figures in every country in which they play during the World Series,” he said.