Powerful All Blacks flank Jerome Kaino capped an outstanding year by being named as the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial player of the year at the New Zealand rugby awards ceremony on Thursday.
The 28-year-old Blues loose forward beat off the challenge of victorious World Cup skipper Richie McCaw and explosive centre Ma'a Nonu to win the award which was presented by Pam Tremain to Jerome's brother Kaino Kaino on his behalf.
Kaino, who was also nominated for the IRB player of the year award, was a vital member of the world champion All Blacks side, and played all but 55 seconds of their entire World Cup campaign on home soil.
The award was one of 13 presented at the New Zealand Rugby Union's (NZRU) annual premier awards event at the Langham Hotel in Auckland.
Crusaders loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett walked away with the Super Rugby player of the year award after a season which saw him anchor a formidable scrum as his team made an unlikely run to the final without playing any games at home due to the earthquake that ravaged Christchurch earlier this year.
The World Cup-winning All Blacks claimed the team of the year award ahead of the Crusaders and the World Series-winning New Zealand Sevens team while former All Blacks mentor Graham Henry won the coach of the year award to add to his fifth IRB coach of the year award.
Henry finished his international coaching career as one of the most successful coaches of all time, leading the All Blacks to victory in 88 of his 103 Test matches in charge during his eight-year tenure.
Tim Mikkelson won the Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens player of the year while Piri Weepu capped his remarkable comeback from injury to take the Tom French Memorial Maori player of the year award.
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 and recent NZRU chairman Jock Hobbs.
The former Canterbury flank, who was also awarded the Vernon Pugh award for distinguished service by the IRB earlier this year, played a pivotal role in bringing the 2011 World Cup to New Zealand, and although illness forced him to withdraw from his roles as chairman of the NZRU and the World Cup tournament body much of the success of the tournament has been attributed to his hard work.
NZRU chairman Mike Eagle said that the awards ceremony capped a memorable year for New Zealand rugby in which the sport played an important role in the wider community.
"In hosting Rugby World Cup 2011 we took major steps toward rugby's vision to inspire and unify New Zealanders. There were many challenges this year, but I am proud to say that we met every one of them head on, and the high standard of nominations and excellence of our winners tonight are evidence of the wonderful success rugby has enjoyed," he said.
The awards were judged by former All Blacks captain and former NZRU President Andy Leslie, another former All Blacks captain and current NZRU Board member Graham Mourie, rugby commentator Grant Nisbett and former All Black and current NZRU general manager community and provincial union rugby Brent Anderson.
The full list of winners at the New Zealand rugby awards:
NZRU age grade player of the year: Sam Cane
Richard Crawshaw Memorial Sevens player of the year: Tim Mikkelson
NZRU referee of the year: Bryce Lawrence
NZRU women's player of the year: Fiao'o Fa'amausili
Charles Monro rugby volunteer of the year: Andy MacDonald
Super Rugby player of the year: Wyatt Crockett
Tom French Memorial Maori player of the year: Piri Weepu Whakatohea
Heartland Championship player of the year: Jon Smyth
NPC player of the year: Aaron Cruden
Team of the year: All Blacks
NZRU coach of the year: Graham Henry
Steinlager Salver for an outstanding contribution to New Zealand rugby: Jock Hobbs
Kelvin R Tremain Memorial player of the year: Jerome Kaino
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