All Blacks v Warriors for Team of Year as finalists for 61st Halberg Awards announced

 The finalists for this year's Halberg Awards have been announced, with 30 finalists across the six categories.

All eyes will undoubtedly be on the team of the year award, where NZ Warriors will square off against the All Blacks, both among a five-strong field.  

Both teams captured the public's imagination in 2023, as the Warriors came within one game of reaching the NRL Grand Final, while the All Blacks fell a point short in the Rugby World Cup final against South Africa.

Ian Foster is a finalist for coach of the year.
Ian Foster is a finalist for coach of the year. Photo credit: Getty Images

Also in the team of the year category are both New Zealand's sevens sides, as well as the women's K4 500 canoeists.  

Despite being overlooked for coach of the year at New Zealand Rugby's annual awards, Ian Foster has been included on the shortlist for the coach of the year award.  

Foster, 58, finished his tenure as All Blacks head coach with a silver medal at last year's Rugby World Cup in France, but his achievements were not enough to see him take home NZ Rugby's coach of the year award, which went to Black Ferns Sevens boss Corey Sweeney.  

Sweeney is also included in the coach of the year finalists, along with Gordon Walker (canoeing), Lars Humer and Sean Thompson (snow sports).   

In sportswoman of the year, last year's Supreme Halberg winner Zoi Sadowski-Synnott has the chance to go back-to-back, as one of five finalists.  

Cyclist Ellesse Andrews stands tall among the field after her world-conquering years, as does Dame Lisa Carrington, who could win the award for a sixth time.   

Swimmer Erika Fairweather and motocross champion Courtney Duncan are also included on the shortlist.

World Rugby player of the year Ardie Savea, cyclist Aaron Gate, squash Commonwealth Games gold medallist Paul Coll, golfer Ryan Fox and former Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen make up the shortlist for sportsman of the year.  

The winners will be confirmed at the annual ceremony, to be held at Auckland's Spark Arena on February 14.

Halberg Awards finalists:   

Sportswoman of the Year  

Courtney Duncan (motocross), Ellesse Andrews (cycling-track), Erika Fairweather (swimming), Dame Lisa Carrington (canoe racing), Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (snow sports)   

Sportsman of the Year     

Aaron Gate (cycling-track), Ardie Savea (rugby-union), Paul Coll (squash), Ryan Fox (golf), Shane van Gisbergen (motorsport)   

Para Athlete/Para Team of the Year     

Anna Taylor (Para cycling), Cameron Leslie (Para swimming and wheelchair rugby), Danielle Aitchison (Para athletics), Lisa Adams (Para athletics), Nicole Murray (Para cycling)    

Team of the Year     

All Blacks (rugby-union), All Black Sevens (rugby-sevens), Black Ferns Sevens (rugby-sevens), New Zealand Warriors (rugby-league), Women's K4 500m (canoe racing)    

Coach of the Year    

Cory Sweeney (rugby-sevens), Gordon Walker (canoe racing), Ian Foster (rugby-union), Lars Humer (swimming), Sean Thompson (snow sports)   

Emerging Talent    

Erice Van Leuven (cycling-mountain bike), Julian David (climbing), Lucia Georgalli (snow sports), Milly Clegg (football), Tara Vaughan (canoe racing)