Finalists named for NZ Rugby Awards

Champion teams the Black Ferns, New Zealand Under 20, and the Crusaders, have been nominated for Team of the Year at the New Zealand rugby awards.

The Head Coaches from all three champion teams - Glenn Moore (Black Ferns), Scott Robertson (Crusaders) and Craig Philpott (New Zealand Under 20) - have also been shortlisted for Coach of the Year.

It was Moore's first World Cup campaign and only his second year with the Black Ferns, while Robertson and Philpott led their first campaigns this year.

World Cup Black Ferns stand out and World Series winning Black Ferns Sevens skipper Sarah Goss, is nominated for player of the year alongside World Rugby breakthrough player of the year Rieko Ioane, and Crusaders skipper and All Blacks lock, Sam Whitelock.

Goss is also in the running for the New Zealand Women's player of the year, along with prolific try scorer Portia Woodman, whose is also in the running Try of the Year, and loose forward Aldora Itunu.

This year's awards event sees the introduction of a brand new category to celebrate the Farah Palmer Cup player of the year. That player will be awarded the newly created Fiao'o Fa'amausili Medal, named after the veteran Black Ferns captain and Auckland centurion who announced her retirement this year.

Meanwhile, Waikato stalwart and provincial rugby hero Duane Monkley will forever be tied to the national provincial championship with the introduction of the Duane Monkley Medal for the top Mitre 10 Cup player.

Counties Manukau's Hazel Tubic, Otago's Morgan Henderson and Manawatu's Selica Winiata have been nominated for the Fiao'o Fa'amausili Medal while new and old All Blacks make up the nominees for the Duane Monkley Medal - 2017 All Black debutants Asafo Aumua (Wellington) and Jack Goodhue (Northland) up against former All Blacks boot Mike Delany (Bay of Plenty).

The Mitre 10 Heartland Championship nominations feature Scott Cameron (Horowhenua Kapiti), Bryn Hudson (Wanganui), and Eric Duff (Mid Canterbury) while Glen Jackson, Ben O'Keeffe and Paul Williams mark their busy and successful international seasons with nominations for top referee.

This year's age grade player of the year will come from the World Cup winning Under 20 side with All Blacks bolter Asafo Aumua, Braydon Ennor, and Will Jordan named the contenders.

In Sevens, legend of the short form game DJ Forbes, has been nominated for the Richard Crawshaw Memorial Award along with Vilimoni Koroi and Regan Ware, while Ruby Tui, Tyla Nathan-Wong and Portia Woodman will vie for the award recognising the best of the Black Ferns Sevens in 2017.

Winning a championship has pushed Crusaders skipper Sam Whitelock and his first five eighth team mate Richie Mo'unga into contention for the Super Rugby top player award, along with Hurricanes midfielder Ngani Laumape.

Recognition for volunteers as the backbone of provincial rugby sees nominations this year for Sid Tatana (Wairarapa Bush), Nick Mulvaney (North Harbour) and Slade Sturmey (Horowhenua Kapiti).

The Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the year will be decided between Rieko Ioane, Charlie Ngatai, and Liam Squire. Other awards to be announced on the night will be the New Zealand Rugby Players Association's David Kirk Award and the Steinlager Salver Award recognising an outstanding contribution to rugby.

The winners will be announced on December 14th.