The Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks dominate the list of nominees for next month's Steinlager Rugby Awards.
The victorious All Blacks team, individual stars of the World Cup squad and winning coach Graham Henry dominate six of the 13 award categories.
The Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year will be hotly contested between Ma'a Nonu and Jerome Kaino, both finalists in the IRB's Player of the Year award, and captain Richie McCaw.
The All Blacks will face the biggest challenge for the Team of the Year Award from Super 15 finalists the Crusaders, who played their entire season away from home after the devastation of the Canterbury earthquakes. Other nominees are ITM Cup champions Canterbury and the HSBC World Series champions the New Zealand Sevens team.
Graham Henry, who last week announced he was standing down as All Blacks coach after directing the side to their RWC victory and winning the IRB Coach of the Year title, is a nominee for the New Zealand Rugby Coach of the Year Award. He is joined by Sevens maestro Gordon Tietjens and four-time national provincial championship winning Canterbury coach Rob Penney.
Three members of the 2011 All Blacks also feature in the Super 15 Player of the Year. Blues captain and hooker Keven Mealamu, Highlanders loose forward Adam Thomson and Crusaders prop Wyatt Crockett are all in contention.
All Blacks first five-eighth Aaron Cruden is up against Canterbury loose forward Nasi Manu and Taranaki openside flanker Scott Waldrom for ITM Cup Player of the Year.
All Blacks general Piri Weepu faces stiff competition for the treasured Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year Award, from his All Blacks team-mates Israel Dagg and Cory Jane.
The success of New Zealand's national teams will also make the task of identifying the best Age Grade and Sevens Players of the Year a tough assignment.
Under 20 World Champions Brad Shields and Sam Cane will be up against New Zealand Schools captain Ardie Savea for Age Grade Player of the Year.
Three members of the New Zealand side that won the HSBC Sevens World Series are in contention for the Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens Player of the Year Award. The three are powerful Waikato winger Tim Mikkelson, impressive young try scorer Declan O'Donnell and the team's playmaker Tomasi Cama.
The Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year trophy will again honour the contribution volunteers make to community rugby. The 2011 nominees are Marty Martin (King Country), Phil Monk (NZ Rugby Museum) and Andy MacDonald (Canterbury).
The Heartland Championship Player of the Year nominees are the Wanganui pair of lock Jon Smyth and second five-eighth and captain Steelie Koro, and Mid Canterbury captain and prop Jason Rickards, who also captained the New Zealand Heartland XV.
The nominees for the Referee of the Year Award are RWC 2011 referee Bryce Lawrence, New Zealand's top female referee Nicky Inwood and Glen Jackson, who only two years ago hung up his playing boots.
The Steinlager Salver, a special presentation to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand rugby, will also be announced and presented at the awards function.
Meanwhile the nominees for the NZRU Women's Player of the Year will be announced closer to the awards as the Black Ferns are heading to England later this month.
The 2011 Steinlager Rugby Awards nominees
Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year
Jerome Kaino (Auckland, Blues, All Blacks)
Richie McCaw (Canterbury, Crusaders, All Blacks)
Ma'a Nonu (Wellington, Hurricanes, All Blacks)
New Zealand Rugby Coach of the Year
Graham Henry (All Blacks)
Rob Penney (Canterbury)
Gordon Tietjens (New Zealand Sevens)
Team of the Year
New Zealand Sevens
Super Player of the Year
Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders)
Keven Mealamu (Blues)
Adam Thomson (Highlanders)
ITM Cup Player of the Year
Aaron Cruden (Manawatu)
Nasi Manu (Canterbury)
Scott Waldrom (Taranaki)
Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year
Israel Dagg, Ngati Kahungunu (Hawkes Bay, Crusaders, All Blacks)
Cory Jane, Ngati Kahungunu (Wellington, Hurricanes, All Blacks)
Piri Weepu, Whakatohea (Wellington, Hurricanes, All Blacks)
NZRU Age Grade Player of the Year
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty & New Zealand Under 20)
Ardie Savea (Wellington & New Zealand Schools)
Brad Shields (Wellington & New Zealand Under 20)
Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens Player of the Year
Tomasi Cama (Manawatu)
Tim Mikkelson (Waikato)
Declan O'Donnell (Waikato)
Referee of the Year Award
NZRU Women's Player of the Year
Nominees to be announced closer to the awards
Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year
Andy MacDonald (Canterbury)
Marty Martin (King Country)
Phil Monk (New Zealand Rugby Museum)
Heartland Championship Player of the Year
Steelie Koro (Wanganui)
Jason Rickards (Mid Canterbury)
Jon Smyth (Wanganui)
Steinlager Salver for an Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rugby
Recipient announced on the night
- HERALD ONLINE