We’ve been blessed over the years with the talent that the Aviva Prem has delivered, and it’s acted as a brilliant platform for many an Englishman, as a way of promoting themselves as quality players and earning international caps.
But what about those from foreign lands?
Those who came to our shores for the chance to play amongst some of the world’s best – some doing so, knowing they're sacrificing their chances of international selection. Without their contribution to the wonderful rugby we have witnessed, we wouldn’t have half as good a league, and so I thought I’d celebrate their influence by looking at 5 who have made an immense impact.
To make things a little easier, I’ve decided to only go with one per nation, so before I begin I must give a special shout-out to E4R Director Carl Hayman, who was immense for the league during his time at Newcastle.
We may as well start with a front-row player, and for me, Marcos Ayerza has been the standout name over the past decade! This legend has four Premier League titles and 246 appearances for the Tigers to his name and has been a Leicester stalwart.
Ayerza is a truly magnificent talent who has been a crucial member of Leicester’s spine and played a vital role in engineering a Tigers legacy within the English game.
One of most brutal defensive operators that the league has seen. Burger’s monstrosity in the tackle is a joy to behold for all who get the pleasure of viewing it and I must say, he was the key man in ensuring the Saracens defensive model became the best in Europe.
He's been the poster boy of Namibian rugby and a beacon of light for many youngsters looking to forge a prosperous rugby career.
Sticking in the back-row, we come to an Aussie who left a lasting impression on the league, even if his stay was only brief. The contribution that Smith brought to the league was plain for all to see; and he really was the oustanding player within the 2015/16 season.
Although he only played one season in the Aviva, his contribution was colossal and this was acknowledged when he received Wasps' Player of the Year and the Aviva Prems Players' Player of the Year. What a player.
My Kiwi choice, at the expense of Carl Hayman, is Nick Evans, and I’m sure this comes as little surprise to most of you. One of the finest 10s the Premiership has seen, Evans rejected playing understudy to Dan Carter for New Zealand and embarked on a quest to propel Harlequins forward.
After 9 years and 2249 points, nothing epitomised his allegiance and determination more than his epic 20-point performance at Twickenham, as Harlequins won the Premiership for the first time. He’s held in remarkable esteem by the club and rightly so. Legend.
Perhaps not as flashy are the other selections but wow, if someone deserves a spot on this list then it’s Murphy. 7 Premier League titles and 2 Heineken Cups with Leicester; a place he has called home for more than half his life. He has been a model professional throughout his career and will always be a legend of the Leicester Tigers.