The All Blacks swept the Halberg Awards last night - rugby's dominance of the nation's premier sporting awards a reflection of 24 years' worth of expectation and hurt now gone.
The Rugby World Cup champions won three of the five main categories as well as the supreme award at last night's Westpac-sponsored awards, held at SkyCity in Auckland.
It was the first time since 1987 - a date that had been used to taunt All Black fans until recently - that the team had claimed the supreme award.
Captain Richie McCaw, who inspired his side to a one-point victory over France in the final despite a serious foot injury, was named Westpac Sportsman of the Year.
Sir Graham Henry was, unsurprisingly, Sky Coach of the Year, and his All Blacks Westpac Team of the Year.
World champion shot-putter Valerie Adams was named Sportswoman of the Year after smashing the world championship record with a personal best.
Sophie Pascoe won the first Disabled Sportsperson of the Year for winning two gold medals in world record time at the Pan Pacific Para Swimming Championships.
The All Blacks capped their stellar night by winning New Zealand's Favourite Sporting Moment, the public voting the World Cup's final whistle.
After the presentations, McCaw singled out Sir Graham for praise. "You can't do it on your own. You've got to have the right men driving the bus. And we've certainly had that."
Asked what else he could aim for in his sporting career, McCaw said the experiences that went towards awards like last night's motivated him.
"It's the thrill of going up against the toughest of competition ... and working out ways to get those goals."
He was in no doubt what lay behind the All Blacks' Halberg success. "You've got to win the world championships in your sport ... so we gave ourselves a chance."
Halberg Trust founder Sir Murray Halberg was honoured with the Sport New Zealand Leadership Award, and nominated the All Blacks World Cup victory as a standout sporting achievement of recent times.
"That was just so incredible, to sit there and watch it, and see the ball go towards the goalposts and say, 'Oh my god, he's missed it'. And then suddenly the flags go up."
The Halberg Award: World Cup All Blacks
Sportsman of the Year: Richie McCaw
Coach of the Year: Sir Graham Henry
Sportswoman of the Year: Valerie AdamsBy Nicholas Jones Email Nicholas