McCaw named NZ rugby player of year
Captain Richie McCaw was named New Zealand's rugby player of the year as his champion All Blacks dominated the lavish awards ceremony in Auckland.
McCaw collected the Kelvin Tremain Memorial award for the fourth time following his wins in 2003, 2006 and 2009.
Overlooked for the international player of the year at the IRB's global awards earlier in the month, where team-mate Dan Carter was named the world's best, McCaw gained deserved recognition at home after leading his side through an outstanding campaign.
McCaw beat Kieran Read and Conrad Smith for the top gong at the Steinlager Rugby Awards held at the Sky City Convention Centre.
The 31-year-old McCaw heads off on his sabbatical after a long but fruitful year where he managed to ensure his team didn't drop their standards after last year's World Cup success, but actually improved their overall performance.
McCaw was the central cog in that with his tireless play and inspirational leadership.
He played in 13 of the 14 tests, missing just the win over Italy in Rome.
Smith had the consolation of being named the Super Rugby player of the year after his outstanding leadership and play with the Hurricanes.
There was an All Blacks flavour to the evening.
Steve Hansen collected the coach of the year award after a successful first season in the job where his side recorded 12 wins, a draw and one loss - sweeping Ireland in three tests at home, defending the Bledisloe Cup against Australia and claiming the inaugural Rugby Championship.
That record was enough to see the All Blacks win the team of the year award.
Both Hansen and his team had also won these accolades at the IRB awards.
Bustling loose forward Liam Messam was honoured as the Maori player of the year in a season where he cemented his place in the All Blacks' back row as well as helping the Chiefs collect their first Super Rugby title.
Canterbury centre Robbie Fruean picked up the ITM Cup player of the year award as he helped the red and blacks to a fifth consecutive title.
Manawatu Turbos and New Zealand under-20 emerging talent Jason Emery won the NZRU Age Grade Player of the Year award.
Manawatu's Tomasi Cama replicated his IRB Sevens Player of the Year award at New Zealand level.
Cama, his Sevens captain DJ Forbes and team mate Lote Raikabula received special presentations of greenstone mere to mark 50 tournaments each.
A mere was also awarded to All Blacks assistant manager Gilbert Enoka in recognition of assisting the team in 150 tests.
Auckland and Black Ferns loose forward Rawinia Everitt was named the women's player of the year.
Wanganui's Peter Rowe was judged to be the best Heartland player.
Bay of Plenty Rugby's Ray Watson was named the Charles Munro Volunteer of the Year, in recognition of his contribution to junior rugby which has seen growth in the union's player numbers.
The Steinlager Salver award, which recognises exceptional contributions to New Zealand rugby, was presented to Southland stalwart, former player, and coach and long-time administrator Ray Harper.
The 84-year-old served the Southland rugby administration for 24 years, becoming a life member.
He represented Southland on the NZRFU council for 13 years from 1974, during a time when the council faced challenging issues including the 1981 Springbok tour.
Harper had a hand in planning the Rugby World Cup in 1987 and in between his council commitments he managed the Junior All Blacks on three tours as well as the All Blacks on tours to Australia and Wales in 1980.
2012 Steinlager Rugby Awards
Kelvin Tremain Memorial Player of the Year: Richie McCaw
adidas Team of the Year: All Blacks
New Zealand Rugby Coach of the Year: Steve Hansen (All Blacks)
NZRU Women's Player of the Year: Rawinia Everitt (Auckland)
Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens Player of the Year: Tomasi Cama (Manawatu)
NZRU Age Grade Player of the Year: Jason Emery (Manawatu)
Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year: Liam Messam (Waikato)
Investec Super Rugby Player of the Year: Conrad Smith (Hurricanes)
ITM Cup Player of the Year: Robbie Fruean (Canterbury)
NZRU Referee of the Year: Glen Jackson
Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year: Ray Watson (Bay of Plenty)
Heartland Championship Player of the Year: Peter Rowe (Wanganui)
Steinlager Salver: Ray Harper (Southland)