More awards on way for Black Ferns as champions dominate NZ Rugby awards

By James Perry

The World Champion Black Ferns unsurprisingly headline a stellar list of finalists for the New Zealand Rugby awards to be announced next week.

Co-captain Ruahei Demant, hot on the heels of being named World Rugby's women's 15s player of the year is one of four vying for the Black Ferns player of the year, along with Stacey Fluhler (Tūhoe, Te Arawa), Sarah Hirini (Ngāti Kahungunu) and Theresa Fitzpatrick.

The Ngāti Awa, Te Whānau a Apanui and Whakatōhea first five is also named as a finalist for the Tom French Memorial Māori player of the year, as are Fluhler and TJ Perenara (Ngāti Rangitihi, Te Arawa), who managed to play for every team he is eligible for this year from club level with Northern United through to the Māori All Blacks, All Blacks and eventually a late call up to the All Blacks northern tour.

After leading her side to bronze at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and Silver at the Rugby World Cup Sevens, Sarah Hirini is also up for Black Ferns sevens player of the year, alongside speedster Michaela Blyde and rising star Risileaana Pouri-Lane (Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāi Tahu). 

Te Whakatōhea and Te Whānau a Apanui hooker Luka Connor (Chiefs Manawa), Liana Mikaele-Tu'u (Blues) and Joanah Ngan-Woo are the finalists for the inaugural Super Rugby Aupiki player of the year. All three players had standout seasons in the first women's Super Rugby competition that led to becoming regular members of the Black Ferns team that eventually won the world cup in Auckland.

Connor (Bay of Plenty) also has a chance of winning the Fiao'o Faamausili medal for Farah Palmer Cup Player of the Year, being named a finalist alongside Otago halfback Maia Joseph (Rangitāne, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Maniapoto) and veteran Northland Kauri lock Charmaine Smith. 

In the men's code, Ngarohi McGarvey-Black (Tūhoe) is a finalist in the Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Blacks Sevens player of the year award, as is Sam Dickson and boom rookie Caleb Tangitau. Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea, Samisoni Taukeiaho and Sam Whitelock are the finalists for the All Black player of the year, while Savea, Will Jordan and Stephen Perofeta are up for Super Rugby player of the year.

North Harbour's Bryn Gatland, Bay of Plenty livewire Emoni Narawa and standout Wellington Lion loose forward Peter Lakai are the finalists for the Duane Monkley medal for the Bunnings NPC Player of the Year.

Ngāti Porou East Coast, which won the Lochore Cup for the first time securing the union's first NPC title since 2012 is named as a finalist for men's national team of the year, while captain and veteran halfback Sam Parkes is a finalist for the Ian Kirkpatrick medal for Heartland player of the year alongside South Canterbury's Siu Kakala and Semi Vodosese of Whanganui.

Four more awards will be announced on the night, the Steinlager Salver, the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year, New Zealand Team of the Year and the New Zealand Coach of the Year. 

The full list of nominees are:

New Zealand Rugby Referee of the Year: Maggie Cogger-Orr (Auckland), Brendon Pickerill (North Harbour), Ben O'Keeffe (Auckland) (Te Rarawa)

Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year: Cathy Charles (Otago), Andrew Gemmell (Thames Valley), Allen Grainger (Waikato)

New Zealand Rugby Age Grade Player of the Year: George Bell (Canterbury), Peter Lakai (Wellington), Payton Spencer (Auckland) (Ngāti Kahungunu, Muaūpoko)

Ian Kirkpatrick Medal: Siu Kakala (South Canterbury), Sam Parkes (Ngāti Porou East Coast), Semi Vodosese (Whanganui)

Duane Monkley Medal: Bryn Gatland (North Harbour), Emoni Narawa (Bay of Plenty), Peter Lakai (Wellington)

Fiao'o Faamausili Medal: Luka Connor (Bay of Plenty), Maia Joseph (Otago), Charmaine Smith (Northland)   

National Men's Coach of the Year: Leo Crowley (Wellington), Scott Robertson (Crusaders), Nigel Walsh (South Canterbury)

ASB National Women's Coach of the Year: Blair Baxter (Canterbury),  Allan Bunting (Chiefs Manawa) (Tūhourangi), Blair Cross (Hawke’s Bay)                                                                     

DHL Super Rugby Pacific Player of the Year: Will Jordan (Crusaders), Stephen Perofeta (Blues), Ardie Savea (Hurricanes)

Sky Super Rugby Aupiki Player of the Year: Luka Connor (Chiefs Manawa) (Whakatōhea, Te Whānau a Apanui), Liana Mikaele-Tu'u (Blues), Joanah Ngan-Woo (Hurricanes)

Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year: Ruahei Demant (Te Whānau ā Apanui / Te Whakatōhea / Ngāti Awa), Stacey Fluhler (Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Arawa), TJ Perenara (Ngāti Rangitihi / Te Arawa)    

Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Blacks Sevens Player of the Year: Ngarohi McGarvey-Black (Ngāi Tūhoe), Sam Dickson, Caleb Tangitau 

Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year: Michaela Blyde, Sarah Hirini (Ngāti Kahungunu), Risaleaana (Risi) Pouri-Lane (Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Koata, Ngāi Tahu)

Black Ferns Player of the Year: Ruahei Demant (Te Whānau a Apanui, Whakatōhea, Ngāti Awa), Theresa Fitzpatrick, Stacey Fluhler (Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Arawa), Sarah Hirini (Ngāti Kahungunu)

All Blacks Player of the Year: Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Sam Whitelock

National Men's Team of the Year: Crusaders Ngāti Porou East Coast, South Canterbury, Wellington

National Women's Team of the Year: Canterbury, Chiefs Manawa, Hawke's Bay