All Blacks flanker Ardie Savea and Black Ferns sevens captain Sarah Hirini headline the list of nominations for this year’s New Zealand Rugby awards.
Savea will go head-to-head with Will Jordan, Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane for All Blacks player of the year while Hirini, having led her team to Olympic gold in Tokyo, is up against Gayle Broughton and Tyla Nathan-Wong for Black Ferns sevens player of the year.
Hirini is also nominated alongside New Zealand Māori captain, Hawke’s Bay and Highlanders hooker Ash Dixon, who departed to Japan near the end of the NPC competition, and All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith for the Tom French Memorial Māori player of the year award.
Blues and All Blacks flanker Dalton Papalii will be favoured to head off Richie Mo’unga and Smith to take out the Super Rugby player of the year gong.
Black Ferns debutant Liana Mikaele-Tu’ is nominated for Black Ferns player of the year alongside loose forwards Les Elder and Kennedy Simon. The Fiao’o Faamausili Medal nominees include Farah Palmer Cup Waikato player Grace Houpapa-Barrett, Northland’s Krystal Murray and Wellington Pride’s Joanah Ngan-Woo.
Men’s sevens co-captain Scott Curry is nominated alongside fellow teammates Andrew Knewstubb and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black for the Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Blacks sevens player of the year.
The standout performers from the NPC, as voted each week by Sky commentators, will be in the running for the Duane Monkley Medal. The finalists include Hawke’s Bay first five-eighth Lincoln McClutchie, Taranaki playmaker Stephen Perofeta and Canterbury lock Luke Romano.
Waikato’s dual NPC Premiership and Farah Palmer Cup winning teams are up for National team of the year, with Super Rugby Aotearoa champions the Crusaders and Heartland Championship winners South Canterbury also nominated.
National coach of the year nominations comprise Taranaki’s Neil Barnes, Waikato NPC’s Ross Filipo, Waikato FPC’s James Semple and Crusaders’ Scott Robertson.
Black Ferns sevens captain Sarah Hirini celebrates winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo / Photosport
All teams in black that took the field in 2021 are in the running for New Zealand team of the year, and their respective coaches nominated for New Zealand coach of the year.
Canterbury fullback Chay Fihaki, Taranaki and All Blacks lock Josh Lord and Auckland hooker Soane Vikena will contest age grade player of the year.
Tiana Ngawati (Bay of Plenty), Ben O’Keeffe (Auckland) and James Doleman (Otago) are up for the referee of the year award.
The community award for the Charles Munro Rugby volunteer of the year sees nominations for Paul Batters (Counties Manukau), Peter Chaplin (Canterbury) and Greg Heller (Otago).
The try of the year is open for public vote, which closes at 5pm today (Thursday, December 2).
Three further awards – the NZRPA Kirk, Steinlager Salver and Kelvin R Tremain Memorial player of the year – will be announced on the night.
This year’s awards, due to Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings, will be presented on Sky Sport at 8pm Wednesday, December 15.
NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said the awards are an opportunity to acknowledge all those involved in the game.
“Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19 we’ve seen incredible resilience, dedication and excellence in our game. We are looking forward to celebrating the contributions and excellence across our rugby community and recognising what’s been another exciting year for rugby,” Robinson said. “I’d like to congratulate all the nominees, who once again show the breadth of talent we are lucky to have at all levels of our game.”
The full list of nominees
New Zealand Rugby Referee of the Year:
James Doleman (Otago)
Ben O’Keeffe (Auckland)
Tiana Ngawati (Bay of Plenty)
Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year:
Paul Batters (Counties Manukau)
Peter Chaplin (Canterbury)
Greg Heller (Otago)
New Zealand Rugby Age Grade Player of the Year:
Chay Fihaki (Canterbury)
Josh Lord (Taranaki)
Soane Vikena (Auckland)
Heartland Championship Player of the Year:
Hone Haerewa (Ngāti Porou East Coast)
Willie Wright (South Canterbury)
Stefan Destounis (Poverty Bay)
Duane Monkley Medal:
Lincoln McClutchie (Hawke’s Bay)
Stephen Perofeta (Taranaki)
Luke Romano (Canterbury)
Fiao’o Faamausili Medal:
Grace Houpapa-Barrett (Waikato)
Krystal Murray (Northland)
Joanah Ngan-Woo (Wellington)
National Coach of the Year:
Neil Barnes (Taranaki NPC)
Ross Filipo (Waikato NPC)
Scott Robertson (Crusaders)
James Semple (Waikato FPC)
Super Rugby Player of the Year:
Richie Mo’unga (Canterbury)
Dalton Papalii (Counties Manukau)
Aaron Smith (Manawatū)
Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year:
Ash Dixon (Hawke’s Bay)
Sarah Hirini (Manawatū)
Aaron Smith (Manawatū)
Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Blacks Sevens Player of the Year:
Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty)
Andrew Knewstubb (Tasman)
Ngarohi McGarvey-Black (Ngāti Porou East Coast)
Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year:
Gayle Broughton (Taranaki)
Sarah Hirini (Manawatū)
Tyla Nathan-Wong (Northland)
Black Ferns Player of the Year:
Les Elder (Bay of Plenty)
Kennedy Simon (Waikato)
Liana Mikaele-Tu’u (Auckland)
All Blacks Player of the Year:
Jordie Barrett (Taranaki)
Rieko Ioane (Auckland)
Will Jordan (Tasman)
Ardie Savea (Wellington)
National Team of the Year: