All Black Brodie Retallick has backed up his World Rugby International Player of the Year award by being named the Kelvin R Tremain Player of the Year at the 2014 Steinlager Rugby Awards on Wednesday night. The 23-year-old’s outstanding form saw the 35-Test powerhouse lock join team mates Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino who have won the top honour in recent years. The All Blacks who retained their number one world ranking for the fifth consecutive year, took out the Team of the Year for the fourth successive year while Steve Hansen earned his third successive Coach of the Year award.
Under Hansen’s guidance the All Blacks equalled the record of 17 consecutive victories by a major nation, secured a clean sweep in the Test series against England, retained the Bledisloe Cup for a 12th year in a row, won a third successive Rugby Championship title and returned home undefeated from the recent Northern Tour with wins over USA, England, Scotland and Wales. Their success was also recognised by their international peers last month when they were named World Rugby (formerly IRB) Team of the Year and Hansen; Coach of the Year.
Rugby’s annual celebration of achievements on and off the field was held at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland for the first time. In congratulating the winners, New Zealand Rugby Chairman Brent Impey said 2014 had been an outstanding year for many teams. He made special mention of the efforts of those in the community game where the number of registered players topped 150,000 for the first time, “We often say this, but it’s true. When the community game is in great shape, the game will thrive at the upper levels. It is the foundation on which to build success and tonight we thank all those toiling on behalf of the community game who can take credit for the achievements we celebrate here.”
Blues and All Blacks loose forward Jerome Kaino whose strong return to Super Rugby earned him an All Blacks recall this year. He was named Super Rugby Player of the Year. In sevens, Sarah Goss was awarded the Women’s Sevens Player of the Year honour. She was a key member of the team that helped New Zealand Women’s Sevens secure their second successive Women’s Sevens Series title and led the team to a come-from-behind final match victory to claim the Dubai Sevens last weekend.
All Blacks Sevens captain DJ Forbes led from the front all season. His consistent form and strong leadership helped the team pick up their fourth consecutive World Series title this year and saw him named the Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens Player of the Year, his second such accolade. He also won in 2008.
Malakai Fekitoa’s stunning solo try on the counter attack for the Highlanders – form that saw the Tongan-born midfielder force elevated to the All Blacks in 2014 – against the Sharks, was the most popular try picked by fans in the second annual Fans Try of the Year category.