The finalists have been decided for the Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards for 2019, which take place on Friday March 8 in Palmerston North.

The finalists are leaders in both traditional rural sports like shearing, fencing, wool handling and dog trials, and newer sports like gumboot throwing, cowboy action shooting and tree climbing.

"The range of rural sports represented in this year's nominations is extraordinary, and I love the fact we're honouring people from young athletes just starting to make their mark, to the lifetime achievers, and those who work away in the background to make sure our rural sports can happen," said Sir Brian Lochore, chairman of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards judging panel.

"The awards are now in their third year and are going from strength to strength thanks to our fantastic sponsors and supporters."

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The complete list of nominees is:
Norwood NZ Rural Sportsman of the Year:

Tony Bouskill – Fencing – Napier
Kieran Fowler – Gumboot Throwing – Dunedin
James Kilpatrick – Tree Climbing – Tauranga

Skellerup NZ Rural Sportswoman of the Year:

Nicky Ward-Allen – Tree Climbing – Eltham
Pagan Karauria – Wool Handling – Alexandra
Bex Baynes – Sheep Dog Trials – Wairoa

Fonterra NZ Rural Youth of the Year:

Briar Burnett-Grant – Equestrian – Taupo
Bradley McDowell – Cowboy Action Shooting – Whanganui
Sheree Tomlinson – Harness Racing – Canterbury

Levno Contribution to Rural Sport:

David James – NZ Arb – Blenheim
Neil Sidwell – Shearing – Waiwera
Nick Liefting – Fencing – Pukekohe

Toyota Lifetime Legacy:

Ricky May – Harness Racing – Ashburton
Hugh McCarroll – Shearing – Whangamata
Maurice Beatson – Equestrian – Dannevirke

Finalists for the Allflex Sir Brian Lochore Award for an Outstanding Mainstream NZ Sports Person from a Rural Background will be announced at the Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards Dinner on March 8.

Tim Myers, chief executive officer at Norwood, said he was delighted to once again be supporting the awards.

"Rural sports are such an integral part of the traditional rural lifestyle, and they tend to fly under the radar in terms of mainstream recognition. Norwood is very proud to be able to highlight the skill, commitment and talent of these competitors and supporters."

The judging panel is chaired by former All Blacks captain and World Cup winning coach, Sir Brian Lochore, who is also a founding board member of the New Zealand Rural Games Trust.

The other judges are rural sports icon and president of Shearing Sports New Zealand Sir David Fagan, Olympic rowing medalist Nathan Twaddle, Fencing legend Paul van Beers, MP for Taranaki-King Country Barbara Kuriger, founder and trustee of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games Steve Hollander, and respected agricultural journalists Craig 'Wiggy' Wiggins and Tony Leggett.

The Awards Dinner is held on March 8 at Awapuni Function Centre in Palmerston North, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games in Palmerston North where nominees and winners will be competing.