Sports Star of the Year — Chris Wood

Getting into an English Premier League team is hard enough for a player from this side of the world. It's not even that easy for players from England anymore.

Even more importantly, All White Wood has already scored a handful of goals for Burnley at a fine conversion rate (goals/shots) around 27 per cent.

Wood, signed from championship side Leeds United, has only played a dozen or so games so it is too early for proper conclusions.


But that is an exceptionally high conversion rate in an era where statistical analysis indicates EPL goalscorers are more selective and clinical than ever. It is also an excellent return considering that the goal scoring glut in the EPL relies heavily on what are traditionally seen as the top teams, rather than those like current over-achievers Burnley.

Wood has been so impressive initially that some commentators say it shows why EPL teams should have wider recruitment horizons.

Wood has always had a weird knack of finding the net but doing it for an unfancied club in the EPL is a whole new ball game.

Like virtually all strikers, he will face lean times, and opposing teams will be more aware of how he operates. But to make such an immediate mark in the world game's highest profile league gets Chris Wood my enthusiastic nod.

Most Influential (hopefully) — Portia Woodman
The Black Ferns wing has star quality and is close to a household name, which is a big step up for women's rugby. Are we at a turning point for women's sport, where it can become a bog standard part of the mainstream rather than a separate category in many of our minds. To get there, team sports need stars and like it or not, rugby leads the way when it comes to being influential in this country.

Cheers for Portia Woodman - everybody knows her name. Photo / Getty Images
Cheers for Portia Woodman - everybody knows her name. Photo / Getty Images

Most Amazing Shock To Absorb — Brendon Hartley

He's the kid from Palmerston North who made an impossible dream come true by getting a Formula One drive, and was then signed up for the next F1 season.

Hartley (and the rest of us) thought his chance had gone...but he hung in there and made that crucial call to Red Bull's associate team. Now he needs a competitive car from Toro Rosso. Fairytale stuff.

The fast lane, at last: Brendon Hartley during his F1 season. Photo / Getty Images
The fast lane, at last: Brendon Hartley during his F1 season. Photo / Getty Images

Bist toxt massage — Aaron Smith

A completely new category, showing our ability to move with these social media times. This column is not in the business of mocking bad grammar and spelling etc. (people in glass houses and all of that) nor those who might struggle in these areas. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. But it would be impossible to get through this glittering awards ceremony without mentioning, somehow, texts from All Black Aaron Smith revealed this year to have included among many things the phrase "sawn afterdavided".

For those who missed it, he was referring to a sworn affidavit.

Awards Ceremony Award — World Rugby

Slightly off message, since these are the Kiwi sports awards. But this deserves a gong, after the Black Ferns were named team of the year becoming the first women's side to do so. It was so typically grandiose from rugby, swanning about in Monaco. But the sport's clear push to accept women's rugby as a natural part in the order of things was surprisingly inspiring.

I say that at the risk of sounding patronising, but for a sport run by a bunch of old white guy luddites for white guy luddites, they are making progress. There is a long way to go of course, because rugby's old guard looks after the old guard whatever any outside appearances.

Outstanding Quote By An Unsupporting Actor About A Kiwi
Up step crazy Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal, who was hamming it up after All Black legend Dan Carter decided to quit France's Racing 92 for Japan's Kobe Steel.

"This is just dreaming of his tax inspector," said Boudjellal, adding Carter would be facing "one-legged players" in Japan.

If that really is the case, then Japan beat South Africa at the last World Cup on one leg. Not a bad effort.

But yes, "juicy contracts" are what professional sport is all about. Cheeky Boudjellal should know — he's based his own club on the chequebook method.

Top commentator - Mike Angove
Incisive, interesting, knows his stuff, great flow...combat sport specialist Angove's rise has been associated with heavyweight champion Joseph Parker's career but for my money, Angove is good enough to go a lot higher and wider. He could be a top notch regular on the world stage and for now that's not something you can say with certainty about Parker.

Biggest Flop - Super Rugby

A ridiculous dud. Southern hemisphere administrators must be mainlining insanity. Netball isn't exactly grabbing the wider audience either, considering how allegedly popular it is.

Biggest Hop - Rieko Ioane
The All Black wing has gone from promising young star to world beater in a flash. He's a big bloke who glides at high speed, and makes tearing opponents apart look ridiculously easy.

Most Underrated - shared
The British and Irish Lions overturned all predictions to draw with the All Blacks, yet coach Warren Gatland has got diddly-squat in recognition, even from our usually New Zealand-centric public. Very weird...and probably due to public image issues.

Michael Venus made the forced error of winning a tennis grand slam title, the French open doubles, while the America's Cup was going on.

History Maker - Tom Walsh
A quiet achiever, considering the shot put ace became the first Kiwi male to ever win a world athletics championship gold medal without a lot of fuss.

The Lifetime Non-Achievement Award - the Warriors
In a league of their own, despite a strong bid by the Wellington Phoenix.

Bobbing Back To The Surface Award - Team New Zealand
It was an amazing comeback after the San Francisco capitulation. Bermuda was a triumph on many levels for Grant Dalton, Peter Burling, the designers and co. The event also made for fantastic, controversy-filled racing. We could thank another Kiwi for that — naughty Russell Coutts.

Blackbeard Award - Team New Zealand
Ahoy Me Hearties...TNZ love to get the country on board yet failed to disavow people of the idea they could take the America's Cup to (drum roll) Sochi or Abu Dhabi in an attempt to extract the maximum hosting fee out of their fellow Kiwis. Who is writing this strategy? Duco Events? And does TNZ really think we're stupid enough to fall for that old trick? We probably are of course.

Legacy Lasting Impression Award
Brighten up lads. Nobody seemed very happy after the All Blacks and Lions drew their three match series - the Eden Park trophy photos lacked a certain spark you might say.

Cup half empty - captains Kieran Read and Sam Warburton cling gingerly to the trophy after sharing the season's biggest rugby series. Photo / Photosport
Cup half empty - captains Kieran Read and Sam Warburton cling gingerly to the trophy after sharing the season's biggest rugby series. Photo / Photosport