Two of the Blues’ most promising young prospects have been nominated for honours at the 2012 Steinlager Rugby awards.
Livewire fullback Charles Piutau has been nominated for ITM Cup Player of the Year alongside Chiefs speedster Tim Nanai Williams and Crusaders storming runner Robbie Fruean.
Having playing every minute for Auckland, Piutau led the competition for running metres and made the second most line breaks behind Johnny McNicholl. He also scored seven tries.
An outstanding debut provincial season from prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi following a strong showing at the Junior World Championship has seen him earn nomination for New Zealand’s Age Grade Player of the Year.
He will vie with Jason Emery and Jordan Taufua for the honours.
The annual awards, celebrating the best of New Zealand rugby talent and achievement during the year, will be held at the Sky City Auckland Convention Centre on Friday 14 December.
In other awards, Chiefs captain Craig Clarke, who battled through injury to play the Super Rugby Final at Waikato Stadium, and Chiefs playmaker Aaron Cruden have been nominated for Investec Super Rugby Player of the Year alongside the Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith.
The Chiefs Investec Super Rugby win this year, Canterbury’s fifth consecutive title in the ITM Cup and the All Blacks’ haul of Investec Rugby Championship, Bledisloe Cup, Freedom Cup and Steinlager Series prizes have seen all three champion sides nominated for adidas Team of the Year.
First-year Chiefs Coach Dave Rennie, All Blacks Sevens maestro Gordon Tietjens and All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen have all been nominated for New Zealand Rugby Coach of the Year.
All Blacks Sevens stars Tomasi Cama, who currently holds the world’s second highest all time points in Sevens tournaments, has been nominated alongside his team mates Tim Mikkelson and Lote Raikabula for the Richard Crawshaw Sevens Player of the Year award.
New Zealand’s most experienced female referee Nicky Inwood, former golden boot turned referee Glen Jackson, and the ever impressive Chris Pollock have been nominated for Referee of the Year.
In recognition of the invaluable contribution volunteers make to the game, this year’s Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year nominees are Bill Anderson of Southland, Jim Lonergan of Auckland Rugby and Ray Watson of Bay of Plenty.
Nominations for the Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year, and the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year, and the NZRU Women’s Player of the Year will be confirmed in early December when the All Blacks, Black Ferns and Maori All Blacks complete their northern tours.
The Steinlager Salver award, the annual presentation recognising a person’s exceptional contribution to New Zealand rugby, will also be revealed on the night.
2012 Steinlager Rugby Awards Nominees
Investec Super Rugby Player of the Year:
Craig Clarke (Chiefs)
Aaron Cruden (Chiefs)
Conrad Smith (Hurricanes)
Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens Player of the Year:
Tomasi Cama (Manawatu)
Tim Mikkelson (Waikato)
Lote Raikabula (Wellington)
NZRU Age Grade Player of the Year:
NZRU Referee of the Year:
Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year:
Bill Anderson (Southland)
Jim Lonergan (Auckland)
Ray Watson (Bay of Plenty)
ITM Cup Player of the Year:
Robbie Fruean (Canterbury)†
Tim Nanai-Williams (Counties Manukau)†
Charles Piutau (Auckland)†
Heartland Championship Player of the Year:
Ben Coman (Buller)
Tau Moeke (East Coast)
Peter Rowe (Wanganui)
New Zealand Rugby Coach of the Year:
Steve Hansen (All Blacks)
Dave Rennie (Chiefs)
Gordon Tietjens (All Blacks Sevens)
adidas Team of the Year: