The Rugby Blog’s Aviva Premiership XV of the Season
With the Aviva Premiership regular season now done and dusted, we asked our team of writers to pick their team of the season, before combining the results to create our combined XV. Have a read and let us know what you think, before submitting your own to us in the comments:
1. Nick Wood, 2. Schalk Brits, 3. James Johnston
A rare positive in a disappointing season for Gloucester, Wood has excelled in the scrum and were it not for the presence of Alex Corbisiero in the England side, the international recognition that many feel he deserves would have certainly come to pass. Brits has continued the fine form that has made him a superstar in the Premiership, whilst Johnston has been one of the most improved players of the seasons.
Other Nominees: Marcos Ayerza, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, Martin Castrogiovanni, George Chuter, Chris Whitehead
4. Steve Mafi, 5. George Robson
The rise of Mafi has surprised everyone, even his own coach Richard Cockerill, with the Tongan international making waves in the Premiership due to his brilliant athleticism and high work-rate. Robson meanwhile has been a dominant force in the lineout, whilst his power has played a huge part in the Harlequins scrum all season.
Other Nominees: Mouritz Botha, Marco Wentzel, Samu Manoa, Geoff Parling, Tommy Hayes
6. Chris Robshaw, 7. James Scaysbrook, 8. Thomas Waldrom
The new England captain impressed so much in the early months, that people were left bamboozled as to why Robshaw had not travelled to the Rugby World Cup. His loss was Harlequins gain, spearheading his team’s assault on the league. The rise of Exeter has been no better embodied than by Scaysbrook, whose physicality and consistent performances were unwavering. Last but least, Waldrom may have not made the cut for England’s World Cup squad, but his performances for the Tigers have been outstanding.
Other Nominees: Ernst Joubert, Julian Salvi, Maurie Fa’asavalu
9. Haydn Thomas, 10. Jimmy Gopperth
Another Chief whose form has not gone unnoticed, Thomas has been the heartbeat of Exeter’s good fortune. The way they have forced teams onto the back foot has come down to his speed of thought. Gopperth’s selection is perhaps controversial given Newcastle look set to go down, but without his kicking prowess the Falcons would have been gone long ago.
Other Nominees: Neil de Kock, Danny Care, Dwayne Peel, Lee Dickson, Nick Evans, Toby Flood
12. Brad Barritt, 13. George Pisi
Another whose early season form made him impossible for Stuart Lancaster to ignore, Barritt is the heart of Saracens defensive and attacking game, whose fine form has never dipped. Pisi missed those early months due to being at the Rugby World Cup, but exploded into the league after linking up with Northampton, splitting defences with ease.
Other Nominees: Owen Farrell, Jordan Turner-Hall, Jonathan Joseph, Elliot Daly
11. Tom Biggs, 15. Mike Brown, 14. Christian Wade
Bath’s Player of the Season, Biggs has scored many memorable tries in a campaign to forget for his side. Pushing England full back Ben Foden all season, Brown has improved dramatically for Quins in a memorable campaign. Finally, Wade missed three months of the season through injury, yet still scored 9 tries in the Aviva Premiership, the second highest behind Rob Miller.
Other Nominees: Horacio Agulla, Alesana Tuilagi, Miles Benjamin, Jonny May, Tom Homer