Kieran Read, Richie McCaw and Brad Thorn will vie for player of the year at the NZ rugby awards on December 16 in Auckland.
A logjam of winning national teams and outstanding individual performances on and off the field make for an exciting list of nominees and add extra interest to the final judging decisions which will be revealed at The Langham Hotel.
In addition to the top players, referees and volunteers recognised on the night, there will be keen interest in the selection of the adidas Team of the Year from an extended field of five teams, all of which won international championships or series in 2010.
The New Zealand Under 20 team (Junior World Champions), Black Ferns (IRB Women's Rugby World Cup Champions), New Zealand Sevens (Delhi Commonwealth Games gold medallists), New Zealand Maori (unbeaten in New Zealand Maori Centenary Series) and All Blacks (unbeaten Steinlager Series and Investec Tri Nations Champions) could all be considered worthy of the award which will be presented by the Murray McCully, Minister for Sport and Recreation
Similarly, the New Zealand Rugby Coach of the Year will try and separate a field that includes New Zealand Maori Coach Jamie Joseph, Under 20 Coach Dave Rennie, Black Ferns Coach Brian Evans, New Zealand Sevens maestro Gordon Tietjens and All Blacks Coach Graham Henry.
The success of New Zealand's national teams will also make the task of identifying the best Age Grade, Sevens and Women's Players of the Year a tough assignment.Under 20 captain Tyler Bleyendaal will be up against teammate and lock Liaki Moli, and New Zealand Schools captain and halfback TJ Perenara.
Kurt Baker, who sealed New Zealand's come-from-behind win in the Sevens final in Delhi, will be up against fellow speedster Sherwin Stowers and Sevens veteran Lote Raikabula for the Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens Player of the Year Award.And the Black Ferns' hard-fought win over England to seal the team's fourth IRB Women's RWC title elevated the claims of try-scoring sensation Carla Hohepa, loose forward Justine Lavea and captain Melissa Ruscoe to the final three for the NZRU Women's Player of the Year award.
The Centenary Year of Maori rugby and the team's thrilling victories in the Centenary Series will be further recognised with loose forward and Maori captain Liam Messam, wing Hosea Gear, and All Blacks and Hurricanes playmaker Piri Weepu in contention for the treasured Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year Award.
The re-named Charles Monro Rugby Volunteer of the Year trophy will again honour the contribution volunteers make to community rugby.
The 2010 nominees are North Harbour's Don Berry, Counties Manukau's Ron Howard and Hilton Williams from Horowhenua-Kapiti.The Heartland Championship Player of the Year nominees are Wanganui loose forward and Heartland XV captain Peter Rowe, North Otago back rower Josh Collier and Mid Canterbury's rising star Tim Perry.
The nominees for the NZRU Referee of the Year Award are Bay of Plenty's Nick Briant, test referee Bryce Lawrence and New Zealand's top female referee Nicky Inwood.
A compelling year of ITM Cup rugby sees Southland's popular captain and prop Jamie Mackintosh nominated for ITM Cup Player of the Year together with Hawke's Bay hooker Hikawera Elliot and Canterbury's champion centre Robbie Fruean.
The Rebel Sport Super 14 Player of the Year will be decided amongst the Crusaders' prop Owen Franks, Blues' halfback Alby Mathewson and Crusaders' loose forward and early-season captain Kieran Read.
A stunning year at the back of the Crusaders and All Blacks scrum also sees Read in the mix for the supreme award, the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year, alongside his All Blacks and Crusaders skipper, Richie McCaw, and their Super Rugby and All Blacks teammate, lock Brad Thorn.
Pam Tremain will be joined on the stage for the awarding of New Zealand's top rugby award by the Prime Minister John Key.
The Steinlager Salver, a special presentation to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand rugby, will also be announced and presented at the Awards function.
The judges for the 2010 Steinlager Rugby Awards are former All Blacks captain and former NZRU President Andy Leslie, NZRU Board member and former All Blacks captain Graham Mourie, SKY Sport rugby commentator Grant Nisbett and former All Black and current NZRU General Manager Community and Provincial Union Rugby Brent Anderson.
The 2010 Steinlager Rugby Awards nominees : click on the following link