Almanack unveils its 2023 players of the year

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Roigard had quickly dispelled any concerns the Hurricanes would struggle without regular starter TJ Perenara playing while he recovered from Achilles tendon surgery. Roigard appeared in 14 of their 15 games, with 13 being starts.

The editors said, "As well as serving the backline confidently and kicking well, he proved to be adept at spotting opportunities, and his running game netted him nine tries and saw him finish as equal top try scorer for the Hurricanes.

"His efforts had many pundits picking him to be one of the three halfbacks named in the All Blacks squad, a prediction that proved to be accurate. He finished the year with five appearances in the 12 Tests, scoring four tries along the way."

He was joined by Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Codie Taylor and Mark Tele'a with the honour.

World Rugby's Breakthrough Player of the Year, Tele'a, received the award for his efforts at Test level last year.

"Throughout the year for both the Blues and the All Blacks he always looked dangerous when given a bit of room and numerous times he showed the ability to beat a defender, notably in the World Cup final when not many other All Blacks did."

However, Roigard could only make the substitutes for the Almanack's New Zealand XV.

It was: 1.Ethan de Groot, 2.Codie Taylor, 3.Tyrel Lomax, 4.Scott Barrett, 5.Brodie Retallick, 6.Shannon Frizell, 7.Sam Cane, 8.Ardie Savea, 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Richie Mo'unga, 11.Mark Tele'a, 12.Jordie Barrett, 13.Rieko Ioane, 14.Mark Tele'a, 15.Beauden Barrett.

Substitutes: 16.Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17.Tamaiti Williams, 18.Fletcher Newell, 19.Sam Whitelock, 20.Dalton Papali'i, 21.Cameron Roigard, 22.Damian McKenzie, 23.Leicester Fainga'anuku.

Among the women's players, Liana Mikaele-Tu'u was named the player of the year. She was one of three players to appear in all seven Black Ferns' Tests in 2023.

The editors said, "The strong running and hard-tackling number eight impressed with her high work-rate and ball skills."

Katelyn Vahaakolo was named the promising women's player of the year, a follow-up to her receiving World Rugby's Women's XV Breakthrough Player of the Year. A dual rugby-league international, the 23-year-old in six Tests in 2023 scored two tries against Australia and one each against France, Wales and England in the WXV Tests.

The Almanack's Women's New Zealand XV is: 1.Krystal Murray, 2.Georgia Ponsonby, 3.Amy Rule, 4.Chelsea Bremner, 5.Maia Roos, 6.Alana Bremner, 7.Kennedy Simon (co-captain), 8.Liana Mikaele-Tu'u, 9.Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, 10.Ruahei Demand (co-captain), 11.Mererangi Paul, 12.Sylvia Brunt, 13.Amy du Plessis, 14.Katelyn Vahaakolo, 15.Renee Holmes.

Purchase the 2024 New Zealand Rugby Almanack at all leading retailers and book stores. 


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