Two players who could face the British & Irish Lions in two years’ time were rewarded for their performances in 2015 at the annual New Zealand Rugby Awards.
The most prestigious prize of the night was the Kelvin R Tremain trophy for the Player of the Year, with centre Ma’a Nonu scooping the honours.
He edged out Dan Carter and Ben Smith, and while Nonu and Carter have both retired from Test rugby, Smith is very much a part of the All Blacks’ plans going forward.
The full-back was one of the stars of New Zealand’s World Cup success and was joined in winning an award by fellow back three player Nehe Milner-Skudder.
In a breakthrough season for the winger, he earned his first All Black cap before going onto score a try in the World Cup final.
Elsewhere Highlanders fly-half Lima Sopoaga was named Super Rugby Player of the Year while the All Blacks won the Team of the Year award and Steve Hansen was named Coach of the Year.
Finally the Age Grade Player of the Year award went the way of Akira Ioane, the promising young Blues flanker who will hope to be an All Black by the time the Lions arrive in 2017.
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