The All Blacks have been the most dominant rugby team on the planet since they won the 2011 World Cup.
However, this season has been viewed as a failure by the New Zealand media and fans. This is hard to believe when you consider that they swept away all before them in the Rugby Championship and remained undefeated throughout their Autumn Internationals.
The NZ rugby awards shortlists were announced recently, and certain omissions left many fans and pundits alike flabbergasted.
Here are some of the big names omitted from the list of nominations:
Beauden Barrett – New Zealand Player of the Year
The 2016 and 2017 World Rugby Player of the Year has been a constant threat ball in hand often lighting up the All Blacks in sensational fashion.
He was mightily impressive in the Rugby Championship and Autumn Internationals and has been a key figure and leader for the side.
He was incidentally rested for the away loss to the Wallabies, with his presence on the field a massive determinant in who wins.
Nominated: Sarah Goss (Manawatu), Rieko Ioane (Auckland), Sam Whitelock (Canterbury).
Steve Hansen – Coach of the Year
Hansen has statistically had his worst season in charge of the All Blacks, and the weakest season for the national team since 2009 when they lost three times to the Springboks.
This just highlights the dizzying heights he has achieved with this extraordinary side.
Nominated: Glenn Moore (Black Ferns), Scott Robertson (Crusaders), Craig Philpott (New Zealand U-20).
Damian McKenzie – New Zealand’s Super Rugby Player of the Year
The diminutive full-back had a phenomenal domestic season that catapulted him into the starting 15 shirts and scooping the award for Super Rugby Player of the Year.
His omission from the New Zealand awards are even more baffling as statistically the Chiefs flyer topped the overall charts in defenders beaten, carries, metres made with ball in hand and completed the fourth most offloads.
Nominated: Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes), Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders).
All Blacks – New Zealand Team of the Year
Such is the phenomenal success of the Steve Hansen era that a mere two losses and a solitary draw has resulted in 2017 being a disappointing year for Kiwi rugby.
The biggest event of the rugby calendar was a home series against the British and Irish Lions, a privilege afforded only every 12 years. While the men in black were brutal in their opening victory they slipped to a 1-1 series draw, which was followed by a first loss to Australia in two years.
The All Blacks can count their efforts this year as a disappointment the same cannot be said for the domestic, women’s and age group game in New Zealand. The Crusaders won Super Rugby for the first time since 2008, the Black Ferns reclaimed the Women’s World Cup in pulsating fashion from England and the Baby Blacks demolished all before them to score 60 points in the final and lift the Junior World Championship.
Nominated: Black Ferns, Crusaders, U20s.
Aled Price, Pundit Arena