Tony Smith: Kieran Read deserves Halberg gong
Could Kieran Read complete a clean sweep of accolades and win the Halberg sportmsan of the year award?
The Crusaders No 8 has produced the most dynamic season of any All Black since Dan Carter's Lions-taming efforts in 2005.
He is clearly the best rugby player in the world, as evidenced by his annexing of the world player of the year award previously won by Carter and Richie McCaw.
Read has added the Kel Tremain New Zealand player of the year prize, and the Halberg would be a fitting accolade.
It's always tough for someone from a team sport to get the big gong at the Halbergs. Cricket legend Richard Hadlee is one of the few winners from a team code.
But only Indy 500 driver Scott Dixon, who picked up his third title this year, can really challenge Read.
Read is clearly the best player in the All Blacks - some effort considering Carter and McCaw are two of the sport's all-time greats.
But he's in his prime at 28 and the other two are now in their early 30s with a decade of service at international level and all the wear and tear that entails.
Read would be a worthy Halberg winner.
The sportswoman choice should be a straight contest between swimmer Lauren Boyle and golfer Lydia Ko.
What, no Valerie Adams after her fourth world champion shot put medal?
No, not this time. Swimming and golf are much bigger sports.
Winning medals at a swimming world championship, as Boyle has done, and winning pro golf tournaments while still a schoolgirl amateur, as Ko did before turning pro, deserves recognition at the highest level.
Here's a sentimental choice for team of the year. The All Blacks will no doubt win it after the first unbeaten season since rugby turned professional.
But my pick is the Black Sox. The New Zealand men's softball team won a record sixth world title.
They're basically amateur sportsmen or part-time pros and their victory in Auckland signalled the curtainfall for some outstanding careers, with former captain Jarrad Martin and ace outfielder Thomas Makea hanging up their cleats after winning four world titles.
The Black Sox embody the original ethos of the Halberg Awards before sport beecame a business.
It's time to acknowledge their outstanding efforts.