Laumape top of the pops

The blockbusting second five-eighth proved an irresistible force to most Super Rugby defences in 2017 and couldn't be stopped at the Hurricanes' annual awards night either.

The 24-year-old walked away with the player of the year and best and fairest honours, to cap a campaign in which he made his All Blacks debut as well. 

On a night when the Super Rugby semifinalists sought to honour their achievers, there were also some emotional goodbyes. Seven of this year's squad won't be with the franchise in 2018, but none are as decorated as wing Cory Jane.

At 34, the 53-test All Black and veteran of more than 100 games for the Hurricanes is off-contract and due to take up the second year of his deal with Japanese club Toshiba. An exceptionally astute operator, coaching might feature in Jane's future, while he'd be a dab hand at television as well.

While Jane's contribution to the Hurricanes will never be forgotten, Thursday night was about celebrating a decent - if maybe not fantastic - season in which Laumape's personal efforts were to the fore.

His 15 tries were a franchise record and tied him for the all-time Super Rugby single-season mark, with the Crusaders' Rico Gear (2005) and Joe Roff of the Brumbies in 1997. Laumape started every Hurricanes match this year, which was a feat matched only by Brad Shields. Shields, and fellow flanker Ardie Savea, were the two other finalists for player of the year.

Laumape was also a joint-winner of the prestigious best and fairest award with Ardie Savea and centre Matt Proctor. That award is decided by the players, on a 3, 2 or 1-point system voted on after every match.

There was no shock at the naming of rookie of the year, which went to fullback Jordie Barrett. Now an All Black too, Barrett scored 133 points this season and impressed everyone with his poise and all round skills.

Team man of the year was flanker Callum Gibbins, who's off to join the Glasgow Warriors. A hugely-influential member of the squad behind the scenes, Gibbins will be greatly missed. Shields and injured prop Reg Goodes were the other team man finalists.

Lastly, there was some recognition for Geoff Cridge. The injured lock has fought back from a serious knee injury, but not soon enough to see any game time in 2017, and was recognised for his attitude and work ethic.

Others to be acknowledged were lock James Broadhurst, who retired during the season, plus those joining Jane and Gibbins in playing on elsewhere. Outstanding lock Mark Abbott is going to Japan, while prop Loni Uhila is off to France, halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi the Chiefs, first five-eighth Otere Black the Blues and hooker Leni Apisai an unconfirmed New Zealand Super franchise.

2017 Hurricanes Awards

Player of the Year: Ngani Laumape

Best & Fairest: Ngani Laumape, Matt Proctor, Ardie Savea

Rookie of the Year: Jordie Barrett

Team Man of the Year: Callum Gibbins

Super XV Award: Geoff Cridge

100 Matches: Julian Savea, Dane Coles

50 Matches: Ardie Savea, Ben May, Chris Eves



Photo by: HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES Caption: Ngani Laumape has been named Hurricanes' player of the year.