Arun Watkins' Aviva Premiership Team of the Season

June 1, 2017

1. Mako Vunipola – Saracens & England

Mako is fast-emerging as one of the best front rowers in world rugby. His scrummaging ability has been immense for Sarries this year, and that combined with the enormous strength and physicality that he brings to the field, secures his place in this team. Oh, and let’s not forget his deft touch with ball in hand.

  1. 2. Jamie George – Saracens & England

This has been a season for Jamie George to remember, both in Saracens and England colours. At 26, he’s entering the prime years of his career and looks likely to take over as England’s first choice hooker. Also may feature prominently for the Lions.

  1. 3. Dan Cole – Leicester Tigers & England

This guy is an out and out brute and the best in the business when it comes to scrummaging. Cole has been influential for Leicester this season, helping them achieve a top 4 finish with numerous leader-like performances. At 30, there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet!

4. George Kruis – Saracens & England

George Kruis; the name itself sends shivers down the spines of any opposition back row. Standing at 6ft 6in, and weighing in at 188kg, there’s an obvious reason why.

16/17, has seen Kruis yet again prove his worth on the world stage, with match-winning running lines accompanied by his godly natural traits; it’s a no brainer to hand this guy the number 4 shirt.

5. Maro Itoje – Saracens & England

When you think of this young man, you’d do well to find a domestic honour he hasn’t won – and Itoje's only 22.

At an age when many players are still making cases to be considered part of the ‘senior academy system’, this bloke is keeping the likes of Lawes and Launchbury somewhat in the shadows. Let’s not forget just 3 years ago, he competed at the Junior World Cup.

6. Chris Robshaw – Harlequins & England

His removal from the international squad has probably played to the advantage of the Harlequin. The shackles have come off and he’s playing without the pressures of international captaincy, where he was perhaps out of his depth.

7. James Haskell – Wasps & England

An exceptional season with club and country, has seen the 31-year-old receive a Lions call-up – although a late call-up, the self-proclaimed Arch Bishop of Banterbury thoroughly deserves his place in the squad. Agonisingly close to a Premiership title with Wasps this season but they’ll be back.

8. Billy Vunipola – Saracens & England

Billy’s dominating size and strength is a massive factor in his game but what helps him stand out more, is his undefendable ball carrying skills. No stat emphasises this more than his 18 tries in 3 seasons… and counting.

Unfortunately, we won’t see Big Billy in New Zealand this summer; he was probably the player the All Blacks feared the most. 

9. Ben Youngs – Leicester Tigers & England

At 27, Ben Youngs is the best scrum half in England. His organisational skills and execution of set plays has led the Leicester and England man to a Lions call-up. His box-kicking is something of an art too, and would no doubt have tested the All Black defences, yet he bravely stepped away from the Lions squad due to tragic circumstances – for this he deserves a lot of respect.

10. George Ford – Bath & England

Although his international performances haven’t been standout, on the domestic scene this stand-off has used his exceptional passing and set-play ability, to help Bath keep the pressure on the top 4 right until the season close.

Regardless of his questionable defensive abilities, going forward he is an exceptional force, and one I’d want in my side.

11. Christian Wade – Wasps & England

When looking for a winger, who better than the league’s top scorer? With 17 tries in the league this season, the pace master must surely be knocking on the door for an England call.

A one-club man, Wade has been with Wasps from academy to senior level, and there is still plenty more to come from the Wasps talisman.

12. Owen Farrell – Saracens & England

Besides the fact that he is one of the best kickers in world rugby, technically gifted and extremely versatile, Farrell also possesses a great work ethic and nice edge to him.

Farrell’s aggression can sometimes get the better of him but his defensive abilities are fundamental to any side he plays in.

13. Elliot Daly – Wasps & England

Since his international debut, the golden boy has propelled himself into the Lions squad. He deserves international recognition for his delightful long-range kicking and versatility. Both play major roles in this fiery young Englishmen’s career.

14. Anthony Watson – Bath & England

If there's a player that can change the face of world rugby then I wouldn’t look far past this guy. He has the athleticism and skill set of 7s player, but the physicality and aggression to play XV’s, making him the ideal future blueprint for the sport’s players. Coaches must love him.

15. Telusa Veainu – Leicester Tigers & Tonga

Telusa Veainu, a name unknown to followers of the English domestic game until last season when the Tongan full back set the Premiership alight with standout performances; none more so that his try against Worcester Warriors. Great season!

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