The All Blacks and Black Caps are the notable absentees from the Team of the Year category, following the announcement today of the finalists for the 52nd Halberg Awards.

The awards will honour the achievements of New Zealand athletes during the 2014 calendar year. Thirteen different sports feature with cycling providing the most finalists with six shortlisted.

Of the 27 finalists, 18 are in line for the supreme Halberg Award - the country's highest accolade for sporting excellence. The winners of the Sportsman, Sportswoman, Disabled Sportsperson and Team of the Year award categories will be eligible for the top honour.

The Team of the Year category features three world champion title winners from 2014 - the men's team sprint of Ethan Mitchell, Eddie Dawkins and Sam Webster, rowing pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray and the 49er's yachting crew of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.


The category will also be strongly contested by Four Nations victors the Kiwis and Auckland City FC who produced a stunning third-place finish at the Fifa Club World Cup.
That left no room for the All Blacks and Black Caps, despite their strong efforts last year.

Lydia Ko, who won the supreme award in 2013, is again a finalist in the Sportswoman of the Year category. The golfer who won three LPGA Tour events in 2014 is joined by three world champions on the shortlist; rower Emma Twigg, canoeist Lisa Carrington, and shot putter Valerie Adams.

Brendon McCullum and Richie McCaw are both up for the Sportsman of the Year award. The Black Caps captain had a stellar year including scoring a triple century while McCaw led his team for the hundredth time. The category will be strongly contested by World Rugby Player of the Year Brodie Retallick, NBA rookie Steven Adams and world champion cyclist Sam Webster.

Para-Swimmers Mary Fisher and Sophie Pascoe are up for the Disabled Sportsperson of the Year award. Fisher won six gold medals at the Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships while Pascoe gained two golds at the Commonwealth Games. Para-Skier Corey Peters who won silver at the Paralympic Winter Games and world champion Para-Cyclist Emma Foy with pilot Laura Fairweather also make the finalists list.

The 2013 winner of the Coach of the Year award, Steve Hansen, is again up for coach category along with Anthony Peden (cycling), Gary Hay (rowing), Gordon Walker (canoeing), and Stephen Kearney (rugby league).

Finalists for the Emerging Talent Award are pole vaulter Eliza McCartney, cyclist Regan Gough, mountain biker Sam Gaze and rower Zoe McBride.

A voting academy of 28 former athletes, coaches and media representatives voted from a list of 83 nominations to determine the list of finalists. When judging the nominees the voting academy assess if their achievement represented excellence at the highest level.

They also considered if it was the sport's 'pinnacle event', a world record, ranking or recognition, the quality of competition and the global nature of the sport.

Finalists: Sportswoman of the Year: Emma Twigg (Rowing), Lisa Carrington (Canoeing), Lydia Ko (Golf), Valerie Adams (Athletics).

Sportsman of the Year: Brendon McCullum (Cricket), Brodie Retallick (Rugby), Richie McCaw (Rugby), Sam Webster (Cycling), Steven Adams (Basketball).

Disabled Sportsperson of the Year: Corey Peters (Para-Skiing), Emma Foy and Laura Fairweather - pilot (Para-Cycling), Mary Fisher (Para-Swimming), Sophie Pascoe (Para-Swimming).

Team of the Year: Auckland City FC (Football), Kiwis (Rugby League), Men's Pair - Hamish Bond, Eric Murray (Rowing), Men's Team Sprint - Ethan Mitchell, Eddie Dawkins and Sam Webster (Cycling), Men's 49er Class Team - Peter Burling, Blair Tuke (Yachting).

Emerging Talent: Eliza McCartney (Athletics), Regan Gough (Cycling), Sam Gaze (Mountain Biking), Zoe McBride (Rowing).

Coach of the Year: Anthony Peden (Cycling), Gary Hay (Rowing), Gordon Walker (Canoeing), Stephen Kearney (Rugby League), Steve Hansen (Rugby)