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Aaron Smith nominated for three accolades as New Zealand Rugby Awards nominees announced

By Online Editors

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All Blacks veteran Aaron Smith and Black Ferns star Stacey Fluhler loom as the big contenders for this week’s New Zealand Rugby [NZR] Awards after being nominated for three awards apiece.

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This year’s awards will be presented in a made-for-TV special this Thursday, with awards presented to leading teams, players, coaches, administrators and referees.

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson congratulated the nominees for their efforts in 2020.

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“We have seen an incredible standard of excellence at all levels of our game this year. There has been a tremendous level of perseverance and achievement in what has been very challenging times,” he said.

“This year, more than ever, it is important to acknowledge the incredible tenacity and dedication of our rugby community. Rugby’s values really shone through this year and we look forward to celebrating the successes.”

Fresh from leading the All Blacks to the Tri Nations victory in Australia, captain and loose forward Sam Cane is among the nominees for All Blacks Player of the Year, alongside hooker Dane Coles and halfback Aaron Smith.

Smith is also in the running for the Tom French Memorial Maori Rugby Player of the Year, as is Maori All Blacks Captain and hooker Ash Dixon and World Sevens Series winner midfielder Stacey Fluhler.

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A breakthrough season for Fluhler also sees her a nominee for Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year, along with playmaker Kelly Brazier and halfback Tyla Nathan-Wong. Fluhler is also in the running for the Fiao’o Faamausili Medal, nominated alongside Waikato teammate centre Chelsea Alley and Canterbury halfback Kendra Cocksedge, who are also both nominated for Black Ferns Player of the Year, along with Waikato loose forward Kennedy Simon.

After claiming the World Series Sevens title for the first time since 2014, co-captains Scott Curry and Tim Mikkelson are nominated for the Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Blacks Sevens Player of the Year award alongside Ngarohi McGarvey-Black.

Highlanders halfback Smith also gets the nod for Super Rugby Aotearoa Player of the Year, as does Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu, Crusaders playmaker Richie Mo’unga and Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett.

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The stand-out performers from Mitre 10 Cup, as voted each week by Sky commentators, will be in the running for the Duane Monkley Medal.

The finalists for that award are lively Hawke’s Bay halfback Folau Fakatava, Auckland outside back Salesi Rayasi and Bay of Plenty fullback Kaleb Trask.

Championship-winning teams the Crusaders, Tasman, Hawke’s Bay and the Canterbury Farah Palmer Cup side will have the chance to pick up another piece of silverware as all are nominated for adidas National Team of the Year.

All teams in black that took the field in 2020 will be in the running for adidas New Zealand Team of the Year, and their respective coaches nominated for ASB New Zealand Coach of the Year.

The National Coach of the Year nominees include the Crusaders’ Scott Robertson, Tasman’s Andrew Goodman and Clarke Dermody, Waikato FPC coach James Semple and Hawke’s Bay’s Mark Ozich.

Ben O’Keeffe, Paul Williams and Mike Fraser are nominated for New Zealand Rugby Referee of the Year.

The community award for Volunteer of the Year sees nominations for Allen Grainger (Waikato), Scott Kahle (Bay of Plenty) and Jane Chamberlain (Horowhenua Kapiti).

With public voting now closed, the hotly contested Sky Television Fans Try of the Year has been narrowed from a long list of 10 to three.  Fans have put Hawke’s Bay’s Neria Fomai, Christ’s College’s Jack Jones and Napier Boys’ High School’s Bethel Lutele-Malasia in the top three.

Three awards will be announced on the night – the NZRPA Kirk Award, the Steinlager Salver and the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year.

The full list of nominees are:

Fans Try of the Year:

Neria Fomai (Hawke’s Bay)
Jack Jones (Christ’s College)
Bethel Lutele-Malasia (Napier Boys’ High School)

New Zealand Referee of the Year:

Mike Fraser (Wellington)
Ben O’Keeffe (Horowhenua Kapiti)
Paul Williams (Taranaki)

Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year:

Jane Chamberlain (Horowhenua Kapiti)
Allen Grainger (Waikato)
Scott Kahle (Bay of Plenty)

NZRPA Kirk Award:

Announced on the night

Steinlager Salver:

Announced on the night

Duane Monkley Medal (Mitre 10 Cup Player of the Year):

Folau Fakatava (Hawke’s Bay)
Salesi Rayasi (Auckland)
Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty)

Fiao’o Faamausili Medal (Farah Palmer Cup Player of the Year):

Chelsea Alley (Waikato)
Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury)
Stacey Fluhler (Waikato)

National Coach of the Year:

Andrew Goodman and Clarke Dermody (Tasman)
Mark Ozich (Hawke’s Bay)
Scott Robertson (Crusaders)
James Semple (Waikato FPC)

New Zealand Coach of the Year:

Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney (Black Ferns Sevens)
Ian Foster (All Blacks)
Clark Laidlaw (All Blacks Sevens)
Glenn Moore (Black Ferns)
Clayton McMillian (Maori All Blacks)

Super Rugby Player of the Year:

Jordie Barrett (Taranaki, Hurricanes)
Richie Mo’unga (Canterbury, Crusader)
Aaron Smith (Manawatu, Highlanders)
Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland, Blues)

Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year:

Ash Dixon (Ngati Tahinga, Hawke’s Bay)
Stacey Fluhler (Tuhoe/Te Arawa, Waikato)
Aaron Smith (Ngati Kahungunu, Manawatu)

Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Blacks Sevens Player of the Year:

Scott Curry (Bay of Plenty)
Tim Mikkelson (Waikato)
Ngarohi McGarvey-Black (North Harbour)

Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year:

Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty)
Stacey Fluhler (Waikato)
Tyla Nathan-Wong (Northland)

Black Ferns Player of the Year:

Chelsea Alley (Waikato)
Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury)
Kennedy Simon (Waikato)

All Blacks Player of the Year:

Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty)
Dane Coles (Wellington)
Aaron Smith (Manawatu)

National Team of the Year:

Crusaders
Hawke’s Bay
Canterbury (FPC)
Tasman

New Zealand Team of the Year:

All Blacks
All Blacks Sevens
Black Ferns
Black Ferns Sevens
Maori All Blacks

Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year:

Announced on the night

– New Zealand Rugby

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Aaron Smith nominated for three accolades as New Zealand Rugby Awards nominees announced

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