Clean sweep loom­ing for All Blacks


It’s ironic that for all teenage golfer Ly­dia Ko’s stun­ning achieve­ments in 2015 she won’t win the Hal­berg Award.

Ko rose to world No 1 and won a Ma­jor, the Evian Cham­pi­onship, with a record last round of 63. She be­came the youngest win­ner, man or woman, in Ma­jors history.

In any other year, Ko would be guar­an­teed the Hal­berg Award, but this year that crown will surely be won by the All Blacks, who re­tained their World Cup ti­tle in daz­zling fash­ion.

Richie McCaw’s team played with joy and ex­cite­ment and took the coun­try with them in their per­fectly timed cam­paign.

It would be un­think­able for the All Blacks to be de­nied our ul­ti­mate sports gong, de­spite the claims of Ko and a clutch of other world cham­pi­ons. Ko won the Hal­berg Award in 2013, when her achieve­ments were rel­a­tively mi­nor com­pared to what she did in 2015. But in sport tim­ing is ev­ery­thing.

The All Blacks’ suc­cess is likely to fil­ter through into other awards. The Sil­ver Ferns in 2003, the All Whites in 2010, The All Blacks in 2011 and the row­ers in 2012 dom­i­nated the Hal­berg Awards and it seems 2015 will be an­other Hal­bergs rugby ex­trav­a­ganza.

Here’s how I see the ma­jor Hal­berg awards for 2015:

Sports­man: All Blacks Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu and McCaw, crick­eters Kane Wil­liamson, Ross Tay­lor and Trent Boult, golfer Danny Lee, rally driver Hay­den Pad­don, IndyCar se­ries win­ner Scott Dixon and world light­weight sin­gle sculls cham­pion Adam Ling were all big achiev­ers. I’d give it to Wil­liamson or Nonu, but ex­pect the judges to go for the easy choice – world rugby player of the year Carter.

Sportswoman: A really high­qual­ity field, in­clud­ing Ko, world kayak cham­pion Lisa Car­ring­ton, world time trial cy­cling cham­pion Linda Vil­lum­sen, swim queen Lau­ren Boyle and world light­weight sin­gle sculls cham­pion Zoe McBride. It would be won­der­ful if Car­ring­ton’s achieve­ments – she’s been No 1 in the women’s K1 200 since 2011 and this year also won the world K1 500 crown – were fi­nally ac­knowl­edged, but pub­lic sen­ti­ment is bound to be be­hind Ko.

Team: The All Blacks, world cham­pion row­ing com­bi­na­tions Hamish Bond and Eric Mur­ray (men’s cox­less pair), Eve MacFar­lane and Zoe Steven­son (women’s dou­ble sculls), and So­phie McKen­zie and Ju­lia Ed­ward (light­weight cox­less pair), bril­liant yachties Peter Burl­ing and Blair Tuke, world cham­pion team pur­suit cy­clists Piet Bulling, Alex Frame, Dy­lan Ken­nett, Marc Ryan and Re­gan Gough, and the Break­ers bas­ket­ball team all have strong claims. Bond and Mur­ray, un­beaten since 2009, were fab­u­lous again, but no-one will head the All Blacks in this cat­e­gory.

Coach: An­thony Pe­den (cy­cling), Gary Hay (row­ing), Gor­don Walker (ca­noe­ing) and Tim Car­swell (cy­cling) pro­duced world cham­pi­ons, and Mike Hes­son did a good job with the New Zealand men’s cricket team, but tow­er­ing over ev­ery­one is Steve Hansen, who not only pro­duced a world cham­pion team, but won over rugby fans with his hu­mil­ity and sense of hu­mour, de­liv­ered in his trade­mark gruff man­ner.

Dis­abled Sportsper­son: Mary Fisher should surely be an out­stand­ing can­di­date. The blind Welling­ton swim­mer set two world records and won three world ti­tles, but bizarrely isn’t even among the an­nounced fi­nal­ists. Make of that what you will.

Sports Talk


Coach Steve Hansen, left, and cap­tain Richie McCaw were amazed by the turnout dur­ing the All Blacks’ vic­tory tour. The pub­lic re­sponse to the team’s World Cup tri­umph was over­whelm­ing.

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