Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Fiji easy choice over All Blacks

World Rugby's team of the year is a simple decision - Fiji. Their Olympic gold medal has the romance factor, something which has all but evaporated from world sport.

As spectacular as the All Blacks have been in 2016, this is a time to celebrate what happened in Rio where Fiji scored its first ever medal. There will be plenty more years to honour All Black rugby. Plenty. There should be an outcry if Fiji do not win.

As for coach of the year though, I'd give it to Steve Hansen partly because WR owes him after last year's outrageous snub. The All Blacks have reached amazing heights this year, ones well beyond what fellow nominee Eddie Jones has achieved with England.

Fiji's sevens coach Ben Ryan will probably win it, but Hansen has elevated the 15s game and coaching mastery to amazing levels.

That needs recognition.

And a square-up is in order. Giving the award to Australia's Michael Cheika over World Cup winner Hansen last year is a lingering insult that needs redressing and quickly. Australia were crushed in the 2015 final. That should have ruled Cheika out.

As for the breakthrough player of 2016, England's Maro Itoje will win. I haven't seen much of him, but those who have rave about the giant loose forward. Anton Lienert-Brown and Ardie Savea are stars in the making, but they haven't done enough to win an international award yet. Itoje may not have either. But England deserve something for their resurgence under Jones.

- NZ Herald

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