Will the "guest" appearance of the Rugby World Cup prove a lucky omen for representatives of the code among the finalists at tomorrow night's Hawke's Bay Sports Awards function in Taradale?
Sport Hawke's Bay's commercial manager Kevin Murphy confirmed yesterday the World Cup would be among the 540 guests at the UnisonFibre-sponsored function at Pettigrew-Green Arena. Hawke's Bay All Black Israel Dagg, who has already won the Ngati Kahungunu Sportsperson of the Year award since winning the World Cup, is the hot favourite for the Hastings Leader/Napier Courier Senior Sportsperson of the Year award.
Dagg's 2011 Magpies teammates, Brodie Retallick and Ben Tameifuna, who were both members of the New Zealand under-20 side who won their World Cup, are among the favourites for the Lion Foundation Junior Sportsperson of the Year. One of their Chiefs assistant coaches, Tom Coventry, who was Samoa's forwards coach at the World Cup and a co-coach of last year's ITM Cup Championship-winning Hawke's Bay Magpies is the hot tip for the Sacred Hill Coach of the Year award.
The Magpies are again finalists in the Tremains Senior Team of the Year category as is 2011 winner of the Fastway Post Official of the Year award, Rugby World Cup referee Chris Pollock. Onga-Tiko Rugby and Sports Club and Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports complete rugby's representation among the finalists.
The winners of all 10 categories will be announced with the Radio Network/HB Today Sportsperson of the Year chosen from the winners of the senior sportsperson, junior sportsperson, junior team and senior team of the year categories.
Hawke's Bay's most successful swimmer, John Coutts, will be inducted into the Unison Hall of Fame. Coutts lives in Australia but has made a special trip back for the awards.
Dagg is up against world-ranked rower Emma Twigg, Black Sticks hockey player Shea McAleese, world teams shearing champion and Golden Shears winner John Kirkpatrick and basketball's Paul Henare in the battle for the senior award. Retallick and Tameifuna face quality competition from skier Piera Hudson, mountainbiker Brook MacDonald, cyclist Fraser Gough and rowing's Andrew Potter in the battle for the junior award.
Cycling is again one of the most represented sports with finalists in seven of the 10 categories. Gough and MacDonald are joined by Kerry Harford, the East Coast North Island U-17 Track Cycling Team, Carl Larsen, the Hawke's Bay Mountain Bike Club and Ramblers as category finalists.
Six administrators will also be acknowledged as Service to Sport recipients.
Ray Mettrick (rugby and cricket), Cedric Bayly (rowing), Barry Coleman (Surf Life Saving) Bryan Faulknor (Surf Life Saving, Robert Oliver (cycling) and Anthony Small (rugby) have amassed close to 200 years of service an average of 33.33 years each.
They're the true heroes of sport in the region as without dedicated administrators, many of these sports would not be as strong as they are today, Sport Hawke's Bay's CEO Colin Stone said.
The MC for the evening is sports broadcaster Andrew Mulligan.
Entertainment will be provided by Hawke's Bay band Naked Gun and they will be joined by Harry Lyon, who was a member of top New Zealand band Hello Sailor.