Steelform Wanganui captain Campbell Hart has continued his union's strong tradition on being represented on NZ Rugby's big glittering night, with his nomination for the 2019 ASB Rugby Awards next week.
Having led Wanganui's season comeback to reach the Meads Cup final, Hart has been nominated for the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship Player of the Year award, although the lock/flanker from Ohakune will have stiff opposition to claim the prize.
The fellow nominees are members of the championship-winning side in North Otago's No8/lock Josh Clark and halfback Robbie Smith.
Hart and Clark were the locks combination when the NZ Heartland XV played Manu Samoa at Eden Park in August, with Smith joining the incumbents for the end-of-season matches against NZ Marist XV and two games in Fiji with the Vanua XV in November.
Of the initial squad of 26 chosen for the New Zealand tour, Hart was the only player to wear the same starting jersey in all three games.
In the Heartland Championship campaign, Hart had to lead from the front as Wanganui narrowly lost their first three matches, of which he played in two due to the Samoa match.
Hart would put in 80 minute performances, switching from blindside flanker to lock as the reserve forwards would come on for the final quarter or so.
He was a dominant player in the lineout and on defence in Wanganui's narrow revenge win over Thames Valley in the Paeroa semifinal – the sixth win in a row to make the final in Oamaru.
But it was Clark and his forwards who would dominate proceedings in the final, bashing up a tiring Wanganui around the fringes, to win North Otago's first Meads Cup since 2010.
Smith's 10 points from the kicking tee in that game saw him finish with 104 for the season, the only player to score more than 100, which included a number of match-winning kicks earlier in the campaign.
In the 14 seasons of the Heartland Championship, Wanganui representatives have been nominated for Player of the Year in 12 of them, winning on seven occasions.
Wanganui's winners were Cameron Crowley (2008), Asaeli Tikoirotuma (2009), Peter Rowe (2010 and 2012), Jon Smyth (2011), Lindsay Horrocks (2015), and Te Rangatira Waitokia (2016).
Others to be nominated were Denning Tyrell (2006), Mike Thompson (2007), Steelie Koro (2011), Stephen Perofeta (2015), Bryn Hudson (2017), and Craig Clare (2018).
The awards will be held on December 12, live on Sky TV.
ASB Rugby Award Nominations 2019
NZ Rugby Referee of the Year: Rebecca Mahoney (Wairarapa Bush), Ben O'Keeffe (Wellington), Paul Williams (Taranaki).
Charles Monro Volunteer of the Year: Sue Mitchell (Taranaki), Kevin Pulley (Wellington), Ian Spraggon (Bay of Plenty).
NZ Rugby Age Grade Player of the Year: Zach Gallagher (Canterbury), Fletcher Newell (Canterbury), Tupou Vaa'i (Taranaki).
Mitre 10 Heartland Championship Player of the Year: Josh Clark (North Otago), Campbell Hart (Wanganui), Robbie Smith (North Otago).
Duane Monkley Medal: Gareth Evans (Hawke's Bay), Salesi Rayasi (Auckland), Fletcher Smith (Waikato), Chase Tiatia (Bay of Plenty).
Fiao'o Faamausili Medal: Chelsea Bremner (Canterbury Women), Ayesha Leti-I'iga (Wellington), Patricia Maliepo (Auckland).
ASB National Coach of the Year: Andrew Goodman (Tasman, Crusaders) and Clarke Dermody (Tasman), Kieran Kite (Canterbury), Scott Robertson (Crusaders).
ASB New Zealand Coach of the Year: Steve Hansen (All Blacks), Glenn Moore (Black Ferns), Cory Sweeney and Allan Bunting (Black Ferns Sevens).
Investec Super Rugby Player of the Year: Scott Barrett (Crusaders), Ardie Savea (Hurricanes), Brad Weber (Chiefs).
Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year: Ash Dixon (Ngāti Tahinga), Sarah Hirini (Ngāti Kahungunu), TJ Perenara (Te Arawa / Ngāti Rangitihi).
Richard Crawshaw Memorial All Blacks Sevens Player of the Year: Dylan Collier (Waikato), Andrew Knewstubb (Horowhenua Kapiti), Tone Ng Shiu (Tasman).
Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year: Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty), Sarah Hirini (Manawatu), Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland).
Black Ferns Player of the Year: Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury), Ayesha Leti-I'iga (Wellington), Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland).
All Blacks Player of the Year: Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs), Ardie Savea (Hurricanes).
adidas National Team of the Year: Canterbury Women, Crusaders, Tasman Mako.
adidas New Zealand Team of the Year: All Blacks, Black Ferns Sevens, Black Ferns.
Sky Television Fan's Try of the Year Finalists: Stuart Leach (Rotorua Boys' High School), Sheree Hume (Otago), TJ Perenara (All Blacks).
Other awards: NZRPA Kirk Award, Steinlager Salver for an Outstanding Contribution to NZ Rugby, Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year.