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All Blacks and Hansen in line for awards

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/11/2016

The All Blacks are up against England and the Olympic champion Fiji sevens team for World Rugby's team of the year.

New Zealand will be favoured win the title for a seventh time at next week's awards ceremony in London following an unbeaten and dominant season which still has four Tests to play.

The awards are held a month earlier than usual, meaning the November internationals in the northern hemisphere aren't considered by World Rugby's judges.

England under Eddie Jones are also unbeaten to date while Ben Ryan guided Fiji to the inaugural Olympic men's gold medal in Rio to back up their world series crown.

Jones, Ryan and All Blacks mentor Steve Hansen, a three-time recipient, are nominees for coach of the year.

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said no one deserved the gong more than Hansen after leading the side to a record 18 straight wins.

"The rest of us enjoy seeing him nominated more than him, we see the work and effort he puts into it," Foster said.

"It's probably a bigger satisfaction for the team than Steve in some ways."

Five other categories have been shortlisted but men's and women's player of the year candidates will be announced on Monday.

All Blacks Ardie Savea and Anton Lienert-Brown are in the hunt for the breakthrough award for players in their first year of Test rugby.

Foster said the pair, aged 23 and 21 respectively, deserved the plaudits after strong campaigns for their country and in Super Rugby.

"Individual awards are really a by-product of the team going well, it's something that's nice to have," Foster said.

The other finalist is England forward Maro Itoje.

New Zealand could win try of the year, for halfback TJ Perenara's sweeping score against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

Portia Woodman is one of three women's sevens player nominees after scoring more tries than any player in the world series.

There are no Kiwis included in the men's sevens and referee categories.

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