NZPA - (17/12/2009)
Outstanding leadership was recognised when six captains were among the winners at New Zealand's premier rugby awards in Auckland tonight.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw became the first person to be named the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial player of the year for a third time, having previously won the award in 2003 and 2006.
This accolade follows his recent naming as the 2009 International Rugby Board player of the year, making him the first person to win that award twice.
Mils Muliaina, who deputised for McCaw in his early season absence and also led the Chiefs, was named the Super 14 player of the year.
Auckland and New Zealand women's captain Victoria Heighway was named the women's player of the year; Manawatu's New Zealand under-20 captain Aaron Cruden picked up the age grade player of the year title; and Zar Lawrence, who filled in as the New Zealand sevens captain, won the Richard Crawshaw Memorial sevens player of the year.
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 DJ Graham.
After his debut in 1958, Graham played 53 matches for his country, including 22 tests, and after retiring went on to an outstanding administrative career, serving as the Auckland Rugby Union's president as well as New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) vice-president and president.
The Tom French Memorial Maori player of the year award went to exciting wing Zac Guildford; Bryce Lawrence made it two in a row as the referee of the year; and Otago's Blair Crawford became the inaugural winner of the renamed Charles Monro volunteer of the year award for his services to community rugby.
Age grade player of the year: Aaron Cruden (Manawatu).
Richard Crawshaw Memorial sevens player of the year: Zar Lawrence (Bay of Plenty).
Referee of the year: Bryce Lawrence (Bay of Plenty).
Women's player of the year: Victoria Heighway (Auckland).
Charles Monro Rugby volunteer of the year: Blair Crawford (Otago).
Super 14 player of the year: Mils Muliaina (Chiefs).
Tom French Memorial Maori player of the year: Zac Guildford (Hawke's Bay).
Heartland Championship player of the year: Asaeli Tikoirotuma (Wanganui).
Air NZ Cup player of the year: Mike Delany (Bay of Plenty).
Team of the year: Canterbury.
Coach of the year: Dave Rennie (New Zealand under-20, Manawatu).
Outstanding contribution to New Zealand rugby: DJ Graham.
Kelvin R Tremain Memorial player of the year: Richie McCaw.