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North Otago’s dominance of Heartland rugby has continued, with Robbie Smith and Josh Clark receiving nominations for the 2019 Heartland player of the year award.

The Maheno and North Otago duo of Smith and Clark will travel to Auckland for the New Zealand Rugby awards in Auckland next Thursday.

Whanganui’s Campbell Hart is the other nominee in the Heartland category.

“It was a bit of a surprise, but I’m absolutely stoked,” Smith said.

“Pretty stoked to see Clarky in there too.”

Smith was looking forward to next week’s awards night.

“I talked to Ross Hay who won it a few years back and he said his table . . . was beside Richie McCaw.

“Obviously they mix and mingle with each other, it sounds like a pretty good night.”

North Otago coach Jason Forrest said Smith and Clark’s nominations were “thoroughly deserved”.

“Robbie is just Robbie. Nothing is an issue. Nothing is a problem. Whatever you put in front of him he will just get on with it and give 110%.

“That shows on the field and how he plays, the boys have a lot of respect for both those guys.”

Clark played through a few injuries this year, especially towards the business end of the season, which Forrest said inspired the rest of the team.

“One thing you just know with Clarky, having known him for a long time, is the pain is not an issue.

“He’s just an out-and-out soldier.”

The New Zealand Rugby Awards will be broadcast live on Sky on December 12.