Halberg Awards: Expect the night to be All Black

Richie McCaw lifts the Rugby World Cup. Photo / APN
Richie McCaw lifts the Rugby World Cup. Photo / APN

It is shaping as one of the most predictable Halberg Award functions in recent memory. The All Blacks will sweep the floor, won't they? Hayden Meikle of the Otago Daily Times looks at the contenders for the top gongs.

SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR

The finalists: Mahe Drysdale (rowing), Jerome Kaino (rugby), Richie McCaw (rugby), Mark Todd (equestrian).

The smart pick: McCaw. He led the team that won the trophy that means more to this country than any other, and he did it on one leg.

The wildcard: McCaw was the talisman, but Kaino was the best All Black last year. Could that be good enough for him to spoil his skipper's party? Drysdale would have been the leading contender had the All Blacks lost to, not beaten, France by a single point.

SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR

The finalists: Valerie Adams (athletics), Lisa Carrington (canoeing), Jo Edwards (bowls), Andrea Hewitt (triathlon).

The smart pick: Adams, again. Just too dominant. Will own this award for years to come.

The wildcard: Don't forget Carrington is a world champion, too.

TEAM OF THE YEAR

The finalists: All Blacks (rugby), Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (rowing), Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan (rowing), Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown (rowing).

The smart pick: All Blacks. With all due respect to the three rowing crews, this category is the easiest to pick.

The wildcard: Bond and Murray have the added bonus of being named world rowing's greatest crew. That's pretty impressive. But they will have to be satisfied with winning this category next year, after claiming gold in London. Scandalously, the Breakers are not even finalists.

COACH OF THE YEAR

The finalists: Dayle Cheatley (cycling), Graham Henry (rugby), Gordon Tietjens (rugby), Dick Tonks (rowing).

The smart pick: Henry. First the knighthood, then the Halberg.

The wildcard: Tietjens holds a unique place in our sporting history, but lack of success in regular rugby will always be held against him. Tonks has already (rightly) received accolades for his oar-some work in rowing.

EMERGING TALENT

The finalists: Jacko Gill (athletics), Shaun Johnson (rugby league), Sam Meech (sailing), Byron Wells (skiing).

The smart pick: Gill. Somehow missed out last year. But the next big thing in world athletics is now on everybody's radar.

The wildcard: Just as you write this award off as a one-horse race, you notice Johnson's name. Had a spectacular debut season with the Warriors, but his time will come.

HALBERG AWARD

The finalists: The winners of the major awards.

The smart pick: All Blacks.

The wildcard: None, really. Everybody knows this award is going to the All Blacks.

FAVOURITE SPORTING MOMENT

The public appears to be leaning towards the moment the Warriors qualified for the NRL grand final. Not sure how that trumps the final whistle in the Rugby World Cup final, but majority rules.

- Otago Daily Times

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