Jerome Kaino named NZ rugby player of year
All Blacks loose forward Jerome Kaino has been named New Zealand player of the year at tonight's Steinlager Rugby Awards.
The awards night also celebrated the remarkable achievements of Jock Hobbs and the Rugby World Cup- winning All Blacks.
Kaino pipped All Blacks team mates Richie McCaw and Ma'a Nonu to win the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year award, which was presented by Pam Tremain to Jerome's brother Kaino Kaino on his behalf.
The award was one of 13 presented at the New Zealand Rugby Union's annual premier awards event at the Langham Hotel in Auckland.
Kaino's relentless work rate and ball skills made him almost irreplaceable and he played all but 55 seconds of Rugby World Cup 2011. Kaino was also nominated for the IRB player of the year.
The 2011 Super Rugby player of the year award went to Crusaders and All Blacks loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett.
The world champion All Blacks emerged as the 2011 team of the year, edging out the ITM Cup-winning Canterbury team, Super Rugby finalists, the Crusaders; and the World Series-winning New Zealand sevens team.
Auckland and Black Ferns forward Fiao'o Fa'amausili took out the women's player of the year award reflecting her status as one of the leading hookers in the women's game on the international stage.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry won the 2011 New Zealand rugby coach of the year. Henry retired from the job as one of the most successful coaches of all time, guiding the All Blacks to an 85 per cent winning record - a remarkable 88 victories from 103 tests, during his eight years.
Henry headed off a field which included Canterbury coach Rob Penny who guided his team to a fourth successive national provincial title in this year's ITM Cup and Gordon Tietjens who steered the New Zealand sevens team to their ninth sevens World Series win.
Henry was the sole nominee and recipient of the 2011 IRB coach of the year award - the fifth time he has won the accolade.
Nominated for the IRB's junior player of the year after showing outstanding form at the Junior World Championship, New Zealand Under 20 and Bay of Plenty flanker Sam Cane picked up the NZRU age grade player of the year; Waikato's Tim Mikkelson won the Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens Player of the Year; and All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu capped off a remarkable comeback to be named the Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year.
Test referee Bryce Lawrence won the NZRU referee of the year award for a fourth time; and Canterbury rugby's Andy MacDonald was named the Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year Award for his services to community rugby, which include administration and groundsman duties, and coaching the Parklands Rugby Under 13s, Shirley Boys' High School Under 16 and Canterbury Under 13 representative teams.
The hero of the Manawatu Turbos and All Blacks first five-eighth Aaron Cruden was named the ITM Cup player of the year.
The Heartland Championship player of the year award went to Wanganui's Jon Smyth. A member of the 2011 Heartland XV and the Meads Cup-winning Wanganui team, the lock has played 50 consecutive first-class matches for his provincial union.
The Steinlager Salver, a special presentation to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand rugby, was presented to former All Blacks captain and recent NZRU Chairman Jock Hobbs.
Acclaimed for his leadership in New Zealand's 2005 winning bid to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup, illness forced Hobbs' early retirement from his roles as chairman of the NZRU and the RWC tournament body, Rugby New Zealand 2011.
A Canterbury flanker in his playing days, Hobbs debuted for the All Blacks in 1983 and after captaining 16 matches including four tests, he continued to utilise his leadership skills as an influential administrator. The successful bid to host the Rugby World Cup and the resounding success of the tournament, are testament to Hobbs' personal integrity and the mana he commands on the international stage.
The IRB this year also honoured Hobbs with the Vernon Pugh Award for distinguished service.
In another special presentation, pounamu mere were presented to Graham Henry, assistant coach Steve Hansen, team manager Darren Shand and in his absence, assistant coach Wayne Smith, in recognition of reaching the milestone of 100 tests with the All Blacks.
NZRU Chairman Mike Eagle congratulated all the winners from tonight's awards and reflected on the year that saw rugby touch millions of people.
"In hosting Rugby World Cup 2011 we took major steps toward rugby's vision to inspire and unify New Zealanders. There were many challenges this year, but I am proud to say that we met every one of them head on, and the high standard of nominations and excellence of our winners tonight are evidence of the wonderful success rugby has enjoyed," he said.
The full list of winners at the 2011 Steinlager Rugby Awards is as follows:
NZRU Age Grade Player of the Year
- Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty, New Zealand Under 20)
Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens Player of the Year
- Tim Mikkelson (Waikato, New Zealand Sevens)
NZRU Referee of the Year
- Bryce Lawrence
NZRU Women's Player of the Year
- Fiao'o Fa'amausili (Auckland, Black Ferns)
Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year
- Andy MacDonald (Canterbury)
Investec Super Rugby Player of the Year
- Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury, Crusaders, All Blacks)
Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year
- Piri Weepu - Whakatohea (Wellington, Hurricanes, All Blacks)
Heartland Championship Player of the Year
- Jon Smyth (Wanganui, Heartland XV)
ITM Cup Player of the Year
- Aaron Cruden (Manawatu)
adidas Team of the Year
- All Blacks
NZRU Coach of the Year
- Graham Henry (All Blacks)
Steinlager Salver for an Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rugby
- Jock Hobbs
Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year
- Jerome Kaino (Auckland, Blues, All Blacks)