It was a case of Mum to the rescue again for Hawke's Bay's world champion All Black Israel Dagg on Saturday night.
For the second consecutive year Dagg's mother, Horiana Nukutarawhiti, did the receiving on Dagg's behalf at the Ngati Kahungunu Sports Awards function in Waipukurau.
As was the case last year, Dagg was on a hunting expedition at his favourite holiday destination, Lake Waikaremoana.
"Izzy will be up there until he assembles with the All Blacks again," Nukutarawhiti said after completing the post-function media interviews. "But if he is fortunate enough to be among the finalists again next year I will drag him along."
Before accepting the premier award for Dagg, Nukutarawhiti had earlier collected the senior sportsman award which Dagg won ahead of fellow world champion All Black Cory Jane and Olympic Games soccer player Dakota Lucas.
She said Dagg appreciates the following he gets from throughout Ngati Kahungunu whether he is wearing the Magpies jersey or the All Blacks one. Nukutarawhiti pointed out Dagg's advice to youth has always been to hold on to their dreams and goals and chase them.
"I've always believed a young person in sport is a young person out of court," Nukutarawhiti said.
In receiving the premier award, Nukutarawhiti was accompanied by Hawke's Bay Rugby Football Union life member and one of the awards judges, Tom Mulligan.
"This young fellah [Dagg] is an inspiration to us all ... not only for his exploits on the field but also for his community work.
"When you ring the union he always answers the phone," Mulligan said, referring to Dagg's pre-recorded message.
While Dagg won the premier and senior sportsman awards, waka ama was the most successful code, taking home four of the function's taonga.
Waka ama's Manaia Canterbury and Aurora Akauola, both of Hawke's Bay and world ranked, were the respective winners of the junior sportsman and junior sportswoman awards.
Their coach Maika Nuku captured the coach award and Nuku's father, Tamihana Nuku, shared the active kaumatua award with Hawke's Bay-based carver Takaputae Walker.
"The attitude of juniors like Manaia and Aurora make all the work we put into coaching worthwhile," Maika Nuku said when collecting his award.
Former winners of the premier award as individuals, Cam Ferguson and John Kirkpatrick, became the inaugural winners of the senior team award in the wake of their world teams title success back in March. Hawke's Bay's national title-winning under-15 mixed touch team were the inaugural winners of the junior team award.
Olympic Games rowing representative Fiona Bourke of Central Hawke's Bay won the senior sportswoman award. Auckland-based Hawke's Bay-raised rugby referee Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri won the official award in the wake of his World Cup duties last year.
He was unable to attend the function as he was in Ruatoria where he had controlled Saturday's Heartland Championship Meads Cup final.
Hawke's Bay's Battle for Life organiser Patrick O'Brien was a popular winner of the administrator award. The always humble O'Brien was reluctant to accept the award as an individual but said he accepted it for his kaupapa. While many of the women among the 325-strong crowd at the function were disappointed they missed out on seeing Dagg, they enjoyed the performances by New Zealand's Got Talent hot favourites, JGeek & the Geeks.
The function's special guests, New Zealand kayaking's Olympic Games gold medallist Lisa Carrington and former Kiwis and NRL league player Wairangi Koopu, gave an entertaining account of their careers and provided some tips for the youth in the audience during the evening's Unison Cafe segment.
WHO WON WHAT
Te Kupenga Hauora Ahuriri Junior Sportsman: Manaia Canterbury (Waka Ama).
Te Kupenga Hauora Ahuriri Junior Sportswoman: Aurora Akauola (Waka Ama).
EIT Hawke's Bay Coach: Maika Nuku (Waka Ama).
Te Puni Kokiri Administrator: Patrick O'Brien (Battle for Life).
Te Puni Kokiri Senior Sportsman: Israel Dagg (Rugby).
Hawke's Bay District Health Board Maori Health Senior Sportswoman: Fiona Bourke (Rowing).
Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga Active Kaumatua: Tamihana Nuku and Takaputae Walker.
Te Roopu Huihuinga Hauora & Kahungunu Choices Official: Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (Rugby).
Central Health Junior Team: Hawke's Bay Under-15 Mixed touch.
Te Roopu a Iwi Trust Senior Team: John Kirkpatrick and Cam Ferguson (Shearing).
Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc Sportsperson of the Year: Israel Dagg (Rugby).