New Zealand Rugby has announced the nominations for the 2019 ASB Rugby Awards and a smattering of Bay of Plenty athletes, coaches and volunteers have made the cut.
Bay of Plenty Steamers midfielder Chase Tiatia proved to be a real game-changer in 2019 and is nominated for the Duane Monkley Medal for top performer in the Mitre 10 Cup.
Blessed with speed, footwork and an uncanny ability to slip out of tackles, Tiatia played a crucial role in helping the Steamers secure a Championship win and promotion to the Premiership for 2020. He is up against Gareth Evans (Hawke's Bay), Salesi Rayasi (Auckland) and Fletcher Smith (Waikato).
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The world champion Black Ferns Sevens, based in Mount Maunganui, claimed their fifth World Series crown this year. Bay of Plenty's Kelly Brazier has been nominated for Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year, up against captain Sarah Hirini (Manawatu) and Tyla Nathan-Wong (Auckland). Rotorua's Allan Bunting co-coaches the Black Fern Sevens alongside Cory Sweeney and the pair have been jointly nominated for New Zealand Coach of the Year.
With public voting now closed, the hotly contested Sky Television Fans Try of the Year has been narrowed from a long list of 10 to three. Fans have put Rotorua Boys' High School player Stuart Leach, Otago Spirit's Sheree Hume and All Black TJ Perenara in the top three with the fans' final winner to be revealed at next weeks' awards event.
Bay of Plenty also featured in the Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year nominations with Ian Spraggon recognised for decades of service.
Spraggon, affectionately known as "Sprags", has been the rugby sevens co-ordinator at the AIMS Games since 2010. At this year's event, on his 77th birthday, he was awarded the first-ever lifetime AIMS Games Pass in recognition of his years spent coaching, administrating and supporting youth sport.
The 2019 ASB Rugby Awards have also had a shake-up in the premier categories.
The leading All Blacks and Black Ferns will now contest the new All Blacks Player of the Year and the renamed Black Ferns Player of the Year categories. The Kelvin R Tremain Player of the Year award will be awarded to the supreme winner from among all the Player of the Year winners on the night.
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said the rugby awards was an opportunity to celebrate excellence, perseverance, success and triumph.
"It's also important to acknowledge those volunteers who keep the game alive in the community through their dedication, hard work and tenacity. These are the attitudes that are important to any rugby team.
"As the game grows and we see the support and growth of our other teams in black, it has become appropriate to acknowledge them separately for the contributions they make to their specific part of rugby.
"The All Blacks continue to be an important global figure for us, and the Black Ferns are driving real growth in the game in New Zealand and overseas. The globe-trotting Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens teams are now popular figures in every country in which they play during the World Series."
Winners will be announced at the awards on December 12.
ASB Rugby Award Nominations 2019
New Zealand Rugby Referee of the Year:
Rebecca Mahoney (Wairarapa Bush), Ben O'Keeffe (Wellington), Paul Williams (Taranaki).
Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year:
Sue Mitchell (Taranaki), Kevin Pulley (Wellington), Ian Spraggon (Bay of Plenty).
New Zealand 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 (Whanganui), 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).
NZRPA Kirk Award, Steinlager Salver for an Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rugby, Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year:
Announced on December 12.