It has been a long season, and the WRFU will recognise their best and brightest on Saturday night at the fourth annual Wanganui Rugby Awards at the Barracks Bar.
The WRFU introduced a new format to their Tasman Tanning Premier and Senior club competitions when the latter kicked off on the last Saturday of March, leading to a split into three divisions in June to contest seperate championships.
Come the end of July, Taihape had won their first top grade title since the pre-amalgamation Huia club were victorious in the early 1980s, while Ngamatapouri were the inaugural Division 2 champions following their relegation, and Hunterville kept alive their tradition of winning trophies by claiming the first Division 3 crown.
Therefore, the best players have been nominated across those spectrums in the categories of best back, forward or best overall player.
For Premier, Ruapehu's two-time player of year winner Jamie Hughes faces stiff competition from Ratana's Marius Joseph, Pirates' Mairangi Tamehana, Kaierau captain Ethan Robinson, Taihape's champion lock Peter-Travis Hay-Horton, and Marist's veteran Peni Nabainavalu - who can't attend as he is in Fiji currently with the NZ Heartland XV.
In the Senior grade, last season's player of the year in Hunterville's George Gardner is again nominated for the forwards prize, but his clubmate Scott Parkes is up for the overall award, alongside Kaierau's Woody Martin and Taihape's Ritchie Iorns, who split their time between both teams at their respective clubs.
For the Club Coach, Ruapehu co-coach Kim McNaught takes the nomination for his side ahead of Daisy Alabaster, who won the award in 2018.
Ruapehu had an unbeaten season until the Ohakune semifinal when they ran into a committed Taihape team which coach Tom Wells would guide to a long-awaited title.
Nominated with Wells is clubmate Dylan Ratana, who took the Taihape Seniors to an undefeated first round to lift that initial title, before narrowly losing in the Division 2 semifinals to the full Pirates Premier team.
Also nominated from Senior is Marist's Duane Brown, while Kaierau have put forward their entire trio of Ace Malo, Carl Gibson and Dylan Bowater, who lifted the squad into their first Premier semifinal since 2012.
Rugby: NZ Marist defeat NZ Heartland XV in Te Aroha
There is another worthy group of contenders for the Volunteer of the Year prize, with nominees coming from eight clubs.
The Taihape club will also pick up the Weekes Cup for best overall club, based on the finishers in both grades combined, while there is also the Club Incentive award and the Gordon Thompson Memorial for Best & Fairest to be announced.
After the club awards will be the representative rugby prizes, where the coaching staff of each team will announce a team man and player of the year.
It will be hard to choose the Wanganui Seniors prize after several players stood up at different times to get the team out of their early season slump to go on and make the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship's Meads Cup final against eventual champions North Otago.
The Development XV retained the RDO Shield for another year, while the Under 20's had mixed results and the Under 18's hosted the Central Secondary School Shield final against eventual winners the Wellington Centurions.
MC for the evening is NZME broadcaster Rowena Duncum, while the guest speaker is Radio Sport's Nigel Yalden, who will no doubt have some good yarns from his recent time in Japan for the Rugby World Cup.
Club Rugby Nominees
Senior Forward: George Gardner (Hunterville); Ray Crosby (Kaierau); Logan Hughes (Taihape).
Senior Back: Tiari Mumby (Taihape); Tom Chadfield (Kaierau).
Senior Player: Scott Parkes (Hunterville); Woody Martin (Kaierau); Ritchie Iorns (Taihape).
Premier Forward: Gabriel Hakaraia (Ruapehu); Emile Fanene (Pirates): Joe Edwards (Kaierau); Wiremu Cottrell (Taihape); Ranato Tikoisolomone (Border); Bradley Graham (Marist).
Premier Back: Kahl Elers-Green (Ruapehu); Ethan Robinson (Kaierau); Luke Whale (Taihape); Vereniki Tikoisolomone (Border); Josaia Bogileka (Marist).
Premier Player: Marius Joseph (Ratana); Jamie Hughes (Ruapehu); Mairangi Tamehana (Pirates); Ethan Robinson (Kaierau); Peter-Travis Hay-Horton (Taihape); Peni Nabainavalu (Marist).
Club Coach: Kim McNaught (Ruapehu); Ace Malo, Carl Gibson, Dylan Bowater (Kaierau); Tom Wells (Taihape); Dylan Ratana (Taihape); Duane Brown (Marist).
Volunteer of Year: Greg Parkes (Hunterville); Steven Boult (Pirates); Lesley Adrole (Kaierau); Edward Lawton (Taihape); Amber McKee (Marist); Grant Sanson (Border); Maxine Hakaraia (Ruapehu); Jacko Rogan (Counties).
All teams have player and team member of year.
Maori Player of Year
Samoan Player of Year
Sevens Player of Year
Girls Player of Year