Some smashing moments for the Hurricanes and the All Blacks, but 2018 left as many questions as answers about his 2019 World Cup prospects. It will be a while before anyone forgets that try against Australia to clinch gold in the Commonwealth Games final. Small in stature with a huge heart, Winiata manages to juggle rugby commitments with her full time job as a constable in the Palmerston North police force. The New Zealand national rugby league team (Māori: Tīma rīki motu Aotearoa) has represented New Zealand in rugby league since 1907. NZR should be thrilled to have kept the 25-year-old in New Zealand for another two seasons. On another level for a tight forward. Destined for Crusaders greatness as a star Canterbury junior. And he's slowly making waves on the XVs as well, with several impressive performances for Otago at fullback. Given the No 10 jersey for the Chiefs, that was on full display. He also scored his first test hat-trick with three against France in Dunedin. There's a reason New Zealand Rugby didn't want to lose Savea to the North. Round 1, 2018. A frustrating year for Williams where he struggled with form and injuries. With a particularly impressive performance against England at Twickenham, McKenzie made his impact felt be it in the No 10 or 15 jerseys. And she added a few more highlights this year, among them a hat-trick against the Wallaroos. He's got the skill to go with the temperament and plays with all the team ethos and heart the All Blacks selectors put at a premium. The Northern Hemisphere game doesn't always cater to his natural gifts but Piutau still manages to make the most of his chances. Brodie Retallick. Despite being sidelined for nine weeks with a broken jaw, the Crusaders No 10 was the standout performer of the competition, and earned a regular All Blacks spot by the end of the season. He's still the All Blacks incumbent second-five but will have to stave off several suitors waiting in the wings to snatch his spot. The dynamic Chiefs fullback leapt onto the scene this season with a devastating running game which, in tandem with Damian McKenzie, had defenders baffled and beaten. Whether it is carrying, cleaning, dominating the lineout or defending, Retallick does it all to lift those around him. Another player to have a season hindered by injuries, Squire was one of the Highlanders' most reliable bodies when he was on the pitch during Super Rugby. Todd was called into the All Blacks for the end of year tour and pounced on the opportunities he was given. He began the season without a Super Rugby contract, was called up to the Chiefs in an injury crisis and three months later was in the All Blacks for the same reason. The Black Ferns veteran recently led Manawatu to back-to-back national sevens titles. Restricted by injury and, yet, still superb. An in-form Sonny Bill Williams is exactly what the All Blacks need at next year's World Cup. Vito has been a fan favourite in France, a one-time Top 14 player of the year. Beauden Barrett. Faces a tough road to get back to form with a return scheduled at the backend of the Super Rugby season. The big centre with a big motor makes all the right moves with little fuss. The 2018 New Zealand rugby league season was the 111th season of rugby league played in New Zealand. It's been a tough year for Barrett. Cane missed parts of the Chiefs campaign with a knee injury before his test season was derailed by a scary neck injury in Pretoria. Not a vintage Barrett season but even when marginally below his best one of the world's best attacking talents. After a strong breakout year in 2017, the 21-year-old kicked off this season with an unfortunate incident involving the police at a flat in Dunedin. Brodie Retallick. His power and experience was a big reason behind Auckland's push towards the Mitre 10 Cup title, where he was unstoppable at times. Extraordinary fall from grace, not helped by his off field image. New Zealand. The Herald sports team have taken on the impossible task of ranking the best Kiwi rugby players in 2018, a year of Commonwealth Games triumphs, big strides in women's rugby, and the All Blacks getting toppled by a Northern superpower. Mikkelson led the way for the side which secured Commonwealth Games gold and the World Cup Sevens title this year. She was also named the ninth most influential figure in rugby by magazine Rugby World, eclipsing All Blacks stars Beauden Barrett and Kieran Read. Nathan-Wong has been a key member of the all-conquering Black Ferns Sevens side since making her debut in 2012, becoming the youngest to ever be selected in the team at just 18. While he had a few less than impressive moments, he continued to dazzle with ball in hand. The young Blues loose forward had a brilliant breakout year, first making his mark in Super Rugby before getting a well-deserved call-up to the All Blacks end of year tour squad. Luck may have got him into the All Blacks but hard work and truly convincing performances kept him there as he racked up playing 13 tests. Made 11 test appearances for the All Blacks with seven of those coming from the bench, where he is arguably more influential. Once again battled goal kicking demons but came out the other side to kick superbly in the back end of the year. She's so good that whenever she gets the ball and doesn't score, it's a disappointment. Best player on the park at Twickenham in the one point victory over England, and we can forgive him for a couple of rare errors in a muddled team performance in Dublin. His energy and pinpoint passing was, not long ago, seen as essential to the All Blacks' operation. Ugly head clash in Sydney raised some doubts about continuing his career. Blyde finished with the second most tries on the Sevens series with 37 and was the top try scorer at the World Cup with nine. In 2018 the Warriors jerseys will again be made by Canterbury of New Zealand. Edged ahead in test calculations, thanks mainly to Aaron Smith's decline. Hemopo, who had been with the All Blacks for much of the year without featuring a great deal, took a much treasured game time at lock in his first start in Tokyo, throwing himself into everything. The New Zealand Warriors will play in their 24th first grade season in the Australian competition. She has followed in the footsteps of her mother, Cherry, who played for the Black Ferns in the '90s, and will undoubtedly be a role model herself to many young girls to come. Emerged from a difficult season with the Hurricanes to quickly find form with the All Blacks in June. Is he a wing or he is a fullback? Captained the Crusaders to a second Super Rugby title, brought up 100 test caps, captain the All Blacks to four test wins, played at a ridiculous high level throughout the entire year...not much to complain about for Whitelock this season. After a 2017 to forget, hampered by a long layoff from injury, the All Blacks veteran began to return to his best later in the season in the black jersey. Sat 13 Oct, 2018 14:03 Press Conference. But an inspired hat-trick against Italy on the wing shows exactly why he was so highly rated in the first place, and adds to his case to be on the plane to Japan next year. He took over leadership duties from DJ Forbes in 2015, the same year he was named as the country's best sevens player. Coached by Stephen Kearney and captained by Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, the Warriors completed the National Rugby League's 2018 Telstra Premiership regular season in the number eight position, qualifying for the finals. If rugby fans didn't know his name a year ago, they sure do now. And he looks hungrier than ever before. Auckland were the holders of the Rugby League Cup but have not defended the trophy since 2012. Here's the list of the top 50 New Zealand rugby players of the year: After an injury-strewn few years, Proctor got his debut chance at centre for the All Blacks against Japan, where he was be able to draw on the combination he's gained at the Hurricanes with Ngani Laumape alongside him. The All Blacks sevens' main playmaker is a natural on the sevens field.
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