Planet Rugby

Premiership: Team of the Season

14th May 2014 10:12


burger brown braid premiership team of the season

Outstanding: Burger and Brown

Before the playoffs begin on Friday, here's Planet Rugby's Aviva Premiership Team of the Season for 2013/2014.

Saracens, Northampton, Leicester and Harlequins have made it to the final four this time round, while Bath and Sale Sharks both had excellent seasons but couldn't make the play-offs.

Sides who would rather forget the last ten months include Gloucester, London Irish, Newcastle and of course relegated Worcester, for who one player stood out above the rest.

With that in mind, here is the XV.

15 Mike Brown (Harlequins): It would be easy to dismiss Brown based on the amount of time he spent away this season with England, but his form has been exceptional for club and country. Extremely confident, solid under the high ball and a constant attacking threat, Brown has scored five tries for Quins in the league - including four in the final six matches while chasing the final play-off spot. The best players produce when it matters most. Chris Pennell of Worcester deserves a huge amount of praise for standing tall despite a torrid campaign. Nick Abendanon's late season form hasn't gone unnoticed.

14 Vereniki Goneva (Leicester): The league's top try-scorer makes this selection easy. Adept on the wing or at outside centre, Goneva racked up 12 league tries in 17 matches. Keeping him at Welford Road despite interest from France is a huge result for Richard Cockerill. A mention for Bath's Semesa Rokoduguni along with Chris Ashton.

13 George Pisi (Northampton): It would have been easy to move Goneva infield, but that would do George Pisi a disservice. The Samoan and his brother Ken have flourished at Franklin's Gardens. George's handling skills and direct running style are perfect for Northampton in order to create chances for their back three. A mention for Marcelo Bosch, a mid-season arrival for Saracens whose long-range boot could prove crucial over the next month. Elliot Daly of Wasps has also shone.

12 Luther Burrell (Northampton): England's new centre was rewarded for some great early season form by shining in the Six Nations. It's been in the league though were Burrell has earned his acclaim, despite a slight dip. In a breakthrough campaign he notched up five tries. Credit to Gloucester's Billy Twelvetrees.

11 David Strettle (Saracens): Unwanted by England but still running in tries at will, Strettle has been a big part of Saracens racking up over 600 points in the league with his 11 tries. It would be easy to describe him as just a finisher, but he has been industrious in all areas. A mention for Jonny May, who had a rough Six Nations but has still scored top tries in the league, and the almighty George North.

10 George Ford (Bath): Owen Farrell has come on leaps and bounds following the Lions tour, but Ford, for a 20-year-old, has shown incredible talent. Given the starting role at Bath that he couldn't secure at Leicester, and working behind a punishing pack, he has excelled. Ford isn't perfect - at times maddeningly inconsistent - but at such a young age it would be wrong to expect him to be. Also he's the winner of this year's Golden Boot with 250 points. Credit to Danny Cipriani, who has stuck his head down and is reaping the rewards.

9 Danny Care (Harlequins): Playing his best rugby to date. Care lit up the Six Nations and continued that form for Harlequins as they held off Bath to secure fourth place. Dynamic and difficult to contain, he has been at the core of Harlequins' efforts this season.

8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens): At times he is unstoppable. Scarily still only 21, Vunipola's move to Saracens has given them an extra weapon off the back of the scrum. Crucial to club and country. Nathan Hughes (Wasps), Sam Dickinson (Northampton) and Dave Ewers (Exeter) all deserve praise for their efforts.

7 Jacques Burger (Saracens): The tackling machine and Namibia's favourite son. He doesn't play every game, but that will happen if you go around tackling people with your nose and suffered a devastating knee injury a few years back. His bravery and uncompromising defence win Burger plenty of respect and rightly so. He defies all logic. Irish's Blair Cowan deserves some praise too.

6 Daniel Braid (Sale): Personally if it weren't for Mike Brown, Braid would be Player of the Year. Sale's captain has been integral to their resurgence and leads the side by example, a genuine warrior whose effort levels never seem to dip. Class act. Big mention for Bath's Matt Garvey and also Leicester's Jamie Gibson.

5 Michael Paterson (Sale): Perhaps soon to be seen in the white of England, Paterson has turned out to be one of the best signings of the season for Sale. Grizzly and uncompromising in the engine room, Sale's newfound bite has been the secret to their success. Courtney Lawes too has had a great campaign.

4 Samu Manoa (Northampton): You cannot leave out the mountain from San Francisco. Steve Borthwick and Joe Launchbury have both played their part for Saracens and Wasps, but Manoa brings that raw physical power to the party. Whether scoring tries or blowing holes in defences, he's an excellent operator. A huge mention too for Ed Slater, who has captained Leicester to an impressive third place considering their injuries.

3 Logovi'i Mulipola (Leicester): 'Logo' has had some season, filling the noticeable void left by Dan Cole's injury at tighthead prop and scoring one of the more memorable tries of the campaign to boot against Exeter. Mentions for two prospects in Kieran Brookes up at Newcastle and Wasps' Jake Cooper-Wolley.

2 Schalk Brits (Saracens): A close call this between Brits and Dave Ward, the Harlequin who might be England's main man in New Zealand next month. But Brits still oozes class, running free but part of a Saracens pack that dominate the set-piece. His lack of Springbok caps is becoming more and more of a tragedy.

1 Joe Marler (Harlequins): The haircuts may have become sadly more subdued but it hasn't taken away from Marler's explosive game at loosehead prop. A top technician at the scrum benefiting from the law changes, his play round the field is also top-rate. Never stops working. Credit to the evergreen Marco Ayerza.

Club breakdown: 4 - Saracens, 3 - Northampton, Harlequins, 2 - Leicester, Sale, 1 - Bath

by Ben Coles

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