The finalists for this year's Halberg Awards have been announced with Joe Schmidt still in the running to claim coach of the year for his efforts with the Irish rugby team.
Schmidt is one of five remaining looking to win the award. The others are Allan Bunting (Black Ferns Sevens), Clark Laidlaw (All Blacks Sevens), Gordon Walker (canoe racing) and Leon Birnie (Football Ferns Under 17s).
Schmidt won the World Rugby Coach of the Year award after a stunning year with Ireland which included a Six Nations title, a Grand Slam and Ireland's first ever home win over the All Blacks.
Schmidt has overseen the most successful period of Irish Rugby in history, claiming three Six Nations titles (2014, 2015, 2018) and coaching Ireland to their first win on South African soil (2016), their first Test series win over Australia since 1979 and their first win against the All Blacks (2016).
His All Blacks counterpart, Steve Hansen, wasn't even a nominee this year - having won it twice in the past.
In the other categories, the Football Ferns U17s have been named finalists for their sensational run at the World Cup in which they finished third.
Other young talents Nico Porteous and Zoi Sadowski-Synnott are finalists in the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards respectively for their historic bronze medals at the Winter Olympics.
The Halberg Awards judges reviewed a record 93 nominations to find the finalists list, recognising achievements in 2018 up to 30 November.
"A record number of nominations provided the judges a challenging job to review and create the shortlist with a year that provided so many outstanding achievements," Shelley McMeeken, Chief Executive of the Halberg Foundation said.
The winners will be announced at the 56th ISPS Handa Halberg Awards held on Thursday 21 February 2019 at Spark Arena in Auckland.
56th Halberg Awards Finalists
Sportswoman of the Year (Eligible for the supreme Halberg Award)
Joelle King (squash), Jonelle Price (equestrian), Lisa Carrington (canoe racing), Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (snowboarding).
Sportsman of the Year (Eligible for the supreme Halberg Award)
Nico Porteous (freeskiing), Scott Dixon (motorsport), Scott McLaughlin (motorsport), Tom Walsh (athletics)
Para Athlete/Team of the Year (Eligible for the supreme Halberg Award)
Adam Hall (Para alpine skiing), Corey Peters (Para alpine skiing), Scott Martlew (Para canoe racing), Sophie Pascoe (Para swimming).
Team of the Year (Eligible for the supreme Halberg Award)
All Blacks Sevens (rugby union), Black Ferns Sevens (rugby union), NZ Football Under 17 Women (football), NZ Women’s Kayaking Team (canoe racing), Vantage Black Sticks Women (hockey).
Coach of the Year
Allan Bunting (rugby union), Clark Laidlaw (rugby union), Gordon Walker (canoe racing), Joe Schmidt (rugby union), Leon Birnie (football).
Amelia Kerr (cricket), Anna Leat (football), Josh Armit (yachting), Lewis Clareburt (swimming), Maddison-Lee Wesche (athletics).