Nelson’s Mitchell Hunt’s long-range, match-winning drop-kick for the Crusaders has been nominated for a Halberg Award, but it will up to the public, not judges, as to whether it wins or not.
Hunt’s stunning 50 metre drop kick came at the end of its round robin match against the Highlanders in Christchurch is up for New Zealand’s Favourite Sporting Moment of 2017.
The moment came when the Crusaders pack had been bashing away at the Highlanders defence for 20 phases with very little progress. Hunt says there were a couple of chances for a penalty but the referee dismissed them.
Then prop Wyatt Crocket turned around to Hunt and boomed “do something with it”.
“Big boys up front were pretty knackered, to be fair,” says Hunt. “So I said to [Crusaders halfback] Bryn Hall, two more phases and I’ll go for it.”
Hunt’s sweet strike sailed through the air and he says it was only the distance that worried him. “Once I looked up I knew the direction was fine, it was just whether it had the legs.”
It did. Just.
The kick gave the Crusaders – who would go on to win the Super Rugby competition – a huge win and Hunt was immediately swamped by his team mates.
“It was an awesome moment, I can’t really remember right after it. The boys swamped me, that’s all I remember.”
“But they are the ones you practice as a 10 year old. Last kick at the park before you go home is the kick to win the game. That’s how I like to think about it.”
Mitchell says he heard that the kick had been nominated for sporting moment of the year after he received a message from his dad.
“I had no idea and it probably wasn’t until I saw the list of other names when I thought ‘wow you’re in a list with some pretty amazing people’.”
The sporting moment award gives the New Zealand public the opportunity to choose the nation’s most exciting, remarkable, or compelling sporting moment, game or series in 2017.
The public can vote for their choice once a day by text message or online at www.sportingmoments.co.nz.
The winner will be presented at the awards on February 8.