Once again we lower the curtain on an entertaining regular Premiership season, with the final round producing more than its share of vital ramifications for the following season. Now that all is said and done for the eight teams not involved in the play-offs, Ali Stokes picks Crashball Rugby’s Premiership team of the season.
Loosehead: Ellis Genge
The dynamic prop and latest Welford Road fan favourite has impressed immensely since joining from Bristol the summer before last, playing his way into fans hearts with his trademark destructive carrying game. In addition to his threat ball-in-hand, it is the manner in which Genge is terrorising seasoned tightheads in the scrum that gives him the edge this season.
Notable mentions: Beno Obano, Alec Hepburn, Mako Vunipola
Hooker: Schalk Brits
Delicate skill execution, ever-consistent set piece and a running game befitting a Test centre, Brits bows out of his final season in our great game with the highest of honours, joining our end of season XV... who needs a Champions Cup medal with this accolade?
Notable mentions: Tom Dunn, Rob Webber, Luke Cowan-Dickie
Tighthead: Vincent Koch
Tying up our front trio is Brits' fellow Saracens and Springbok teammate Vincent Koch. The peroxide-haired man mountain has fondly become known as Mr Incredible at Allianz Park and while he may not be running around London in bright red spandex - as far as we know - his all-action performances this season have defied the homogenic nature of the prop.
Notable mentions: Jake Cooper-Woolley, Dan Cole
No. 4 Lock: Nick Isiekwe
One area England are not short of at present is the second row. Often featuring at blindside flanker this season as injury cover for Saracens extensive mid-season injury list, Test teenager Nick Isiekwe has been a standout performer in a notoriously physical league at just 19-years-old. If you weren’t aware of Isiekwe’s age, you would assume he was a regular Test forward considering his outstanding contributions to Saracens’ efforts.
Notable mentions: Jonny Hill, Sean Robinson
No. 5 lock: Calum Green
The rise of Newcastle Falcons under Dean Richards has a lot to thank Calum Green for, who has become the most notorious lineout threat in the league only a few years after failing to break through Leicester’s ranks. After moving from Yorkshire Carnegie to the Falcons in 2014, the former Leicester lock has played just as significant a role as any other Newcastle squad member.
Notable mentions: Sam Skinner, Joe Launchbury
Blindside flanker: Jamie Gibson
A rose amongst the Franklin’s Gardens thorns throughout a torrid season has been former Tigers flanker Jamie Gibson. The London Irish Academy product has been an ever-present positive in a Saints jersey, providing a top class performance every week without fail. Gibson may not be as physically dominant as his competitors, but his tenacity and opportunism have done enough to stand out as the season’s top blindside.
Notable mentions: Jono Ross, Ruan Ackermann
Openside Flanker: Jack Willis
To think, in a space of a few years England's options at openside have gone from destitute to bountiful. Atop of this list alongside Sale Sharks' Curry twins and Bath's Sam Underhill sits Wasps newest siege weapon, Jack Willis. At just 21-years-old, Willis has become one of the league’s premier poachers at the breakdown whilst proving last weekend to possess a carrying game substantial enough to fill in for Nathan Hughes in the Wasps’ eight jersey.
Notable mentions: Ben Curry, Brendan O’Connor, Don Armand
Number Eight: Sam Simmonds
The easiest of this season’s sections comes in the form of Exeter Chiefs' dynamo Sam Simmonds. The eldest of the brothers Simmonds has skyrocketed to Premiership fame, terrorising defences with unrivalled athleticism and explosive pace. The 23-year-old now has the best try-scoring rate in Premiership history, with an average of one score every 76 minutes.
Notable mentions: Sione Kalamafoni, Zach Mercer
Scrum-Half: Faf de Klerk
Another one of our more straightforward selections is Sale Sharks halfback Faf de Klerk. The Springbok’s flowing locks have been seen darting across pitches throughout the season, playing arguably the biggest role in the Sharks’ successes this campaign. Physicality, off the cuff improvisation and a dangerous running game, the South African has it all.
Notable mentions: Dan Robson, Willi Heinz
Fly-Half: Owen Farrell
One of the season’s toughest decisions came in choosing between two experienced England internationals or two youngsters making a splash in their debut Premiership seasons. Ultimately for me, Owen Farrell has proved time and again that he is one of the world’s top fly-halves. While Danny Cipriani is at his best with Wasps at the moment, the pristine nuts and bolts of Farrell’s game in addition to his newly improved, underappreciated attacking game yet again stands the 26-year-old ahead of all other competition.
Notable mentions: Danny Cipriani, Marcus Smith, Joe Simmonds
Left Wing: Vereniki Goneva
Alongside fellow Falcon Sinoti Sinoti, Goneva has been terrorising sides all season with an enviable blend of pace, power and wily nous that stands as the only positive of being a 35-year-old professional rugby player.
Notable mentions: Josh Adams, Olly Woodburn
Inside Centre: Josh Matavesi
Playmaking inside centres are all the rage these days and while many sides have been forced to forgo the physical threat of a crash ball runner, Falcons have managed to find a very rare hybrid. Matavesi possesses the ability to play at fly-half whilst also offering the type of line-breaking running that comes with his 119kg frame. The Fijian international is a triple threat for Falcons and is likely the envy of many Premiership bosses.
Notable mentions: Mark Atkinson, Ryan Mills, Brad Barritt
Outside Centre: Henry Trinder
It has been a pleasure for even Bath fans to see Henry Trinder back fit and doing what he does best for bitter rivals Gloucester. This season Trinder has enjoyed a clean(ish) bill of health and has capitalised on his opportunity to storm to scintillating form. So far this season, the 29-year-old has cut Premiership defences to pieces with surgeon-like precision.
Notable mentions: Henry Slade, Chris Harris, Rob Horne
Right Wing: Sinoti Sinoti
A second Falcons wing makes the cut in our XV, with Sinoti Sinoti joining fellow Pacific Islander Goneva. When it comes to beating defenders with a mixture of dazzling footwork and power, Sinoti has no equal. With no significant international absences, the Tongan has been an ever-present in the Falcons side and can do what no other can, embarrassing even the best defensive wingers.
Notable mentions: Christian Wade, Matt Banahan
Fullback: Telusa Veainu
I’m not sure there is a more universally loved fullback than Leicester Tigers’ Telusa Veainu. With feet like a firecracker, the Tongan has beaten more defenders than anyone else this season, an extremely impressive feat considering his injury layoff earlier this season with a broken jaw.
Notable mentions: Jason Woodward, Willie Le Roux
So there you have it, our Aviva Premiership team of the season. What did you think? Who would you change? Chat to us on social media and let us know which players you think should have earned the call-up.
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