So as far as the Premiership is concerned, the league is done and we just have the playoffs to go. Which means just about EVERY blog has its team of the season up. Well who am I to be totally unoriginal and boring.
MY PREMIERSHIP TEAM OF THE SEASON. (yup. i'm doing it.)
15. Chris Pennell (Worcester Warriors) - Yup. I'm that guy that ain't picking Mike Brown. Whereas Brown has been spectacular in a top 4 team, and in an England shirt, Pennell has shone in a struggling team and has played EVERY minute of EVERY league game. That is quite some feat! As this is my Premiership team of the year, the extra premiership games for Pennell gets him my 15 shirt. Now see sense and sign for Gloucester, Chris! :)
(runner up :- Mike Brown - Harlequins)
14. Chris Ashton (Saracens) - I give Ca$hton some fair amounts of stick on Twitter, but to be fair to him, he has had a superb second half to the season. Record breaking try scoring in the Heineken cup but some sensational league form too. His re-emergence as a try scorer coming up to a world cup year can only be good news for England (and he's even getting some plaudits for his much maligned defensive work)
(Runner up :- Jamie Elliot - Northampton)
13. Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers) - Easiest selection in the backs, whether he appeared on the wing, or replacing Manu Tuilagi at 13, the Fijian powerhouse with the fast feet of a ballerina has been sensational. Tigers looked set to lose him to the Euros of the French top14 but getting his signature on a contract extension could prove to be Cockers best signing for next season.
(Runner up :- Johnny Leota - Sale)
12. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)- some hands up here from Anthony Allen and Luther Burrell, but for me, the man they call 36 gets the nod for his ridiculous workrate, as well as his goal kicking duties and the added pressure of captaincy. I'll probably be accused of bias, but i bet you i'm not the only one picking him!!!!
(runners up:-Luther Burrell - Northampton and Anthony Allen - Tigers)
11. David Strettle (Saracens) - Another renaissance man (he's not the last in my XV either!) back to having a blistering try scoring record again this season (2nd to only Goneva in the try scoring charts!) and like Ashton, you have to think he has to be back on Lancasters England radar!
(runners up:- Jonny May - Gloucester and Marland Yarde - London Irish)
10. Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks) - Told you Strettle wasn't the last renaissance man! Ok. this one is controversial. We KNOW Farrell is Mr Consistency, and this could easily be his spot, Owen Williams has also emerged as a potentially amazing player and i know that George Ford is gushed over by the media, however I personally feel that Cipriani was the most important to his side. Sarries give every 10 an armchair ride, as do Leicester and for me, Ford is infuriatingly inconsistent (mainly in my eyes because of his kick ratio and some poor decision making, which can be attributed to his age) whereas Cipriani from about November onwards has been superb, almost reminiscent of Carlos Spencer, keeping teams on the back foot with some clever passing, intelligent kicking and scintillating breaks. You never know what you're gonna get from Cips and that X factor gets him the 10 jersey!
(Runners up :- Owen Farrell - Saracens and George Ford - Bath)
9. Danny Care (Harlequins) - Not much competition here. Care is the quickest, sharpest minded scrum half in the Northern hemisphere. Another guy that will always keep a defence on their toes and be an attacking threat at all times. Once the bad boy of English rugby, he's now one of the first names on the team sheet.
(Runners up :- Kahn Fotuali'i - Northampton, Ben Youngs - Leicester, Dan Robson - Gloucester (just cos i really rate this boy!!!!) )
1. Joe Marler (Harlequins) - Toss up between Marler and Paul James of Bath for me. Marler is a feisty, in your face prop, whereas James is the master of the dark arts (e.g gets away with murder at scrum time which allows him to be dominant!) however, Marler has a more all round game, especially going forward which gives him the nod for me. If Corbisiero had stayed fit he'd probably be in this spot as he started the season fantastically!!! But also big shout to Matt Mullan who i thought had a great season at Wasps
(Runner up :- Paul James - Bath)
2. Rob Webber (Bath Rugby) - Another close call between Webber and Dave Ward, it really could go either way. Webber has been a huge part of a dominant Bath tight 5. Your hooker needs to be able to do 2 things well. 1 is to hook the ball and get the power down ASAP, and Webber is a leading exponent of this, 2 is to get your throw in straight and to the right man. For me, thats the area that gets Webber the nod!
(Runners up :- Schalk Brits - Saracens and Dave Ward - Harlequins)
3. Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons) - Probably another selection i'll be on my own with, but i think for his scrummaging prowess and improving work around the pitch, he's earned this jersey. Now if only he can sort his temperament and cut the daft penalties and yellow cards out.....
(Runner up :- Logo Mulipola - Leicester Tigers)
4. Joe Launchbury (Wasps) -Joe Launchbury is superman. I seriously think so. There's not much he can't do, and he does it with such sickening consistency as well. Still only a youngster too, so there is a HUGE future in store for big Joe!
(runners up :- Courtney Lawes - Northampton and Elliot Stooke - Gloucester)
5. Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints) - I wanted to put Samu in my back row, but there was so much competition to fit him in, that i've decided to move him to my second row. The big American has to be included somewhere,his brutality mixed with supreme athleticism is a joy for a neutral to watch, probably less joyful to be on the receiving end of one of his hits.
(runners up (and a big apology for non inclusion, one of the most impressive players of the season!) Michael Paterson - Sale Sharks and also Dave Attwood -Bath Rugby)
6. Sione Kalamafoni (Gloucester Rugby) - another time i'll be accused of bias, but go and check his stats. Tackles made, tackles broken, yards made, Sione is an outstanding back rower that knows his way around rucks and mauls but also is no stranger to the tryline. Maybe not been recognised throughout the season as Gloucesters pack has been frequently going backwards, but believe me, Special K is the real deal.
(runners up:- Dan Braid -Sale Sharks and Jamie Gibson - Leicester Tigers)
7. Jacques Burger (Saracens) - The most obvious selection in the team. Namibia's most famous export has had another ridiculous season of defensive excellence. The rumour is one of the oppositions team buses once got too close to the Allianz Park pitch and was tackled by Jacques. Its a poor joke, but i reckon he's capable.
(runners up:- Chris Robshaw - Harlequins, Francois Louw - Bath and Julian Salvi - Leicester Tigers)
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens) - The 8's this season have all been largely superb in patches during the seasons. Hughes, Ewers, Dickinson and Morgan could all arguably shout up for the 8 spot, buy Billy V has been immense. He's a one man wrecking ball and a dominant defender with very few flaws to his game. He's made himself the man for England and he's another with a long career stretching out in front of him.
(Runners up :- Dave Ewers - Chiefs, Sam Dickinson - Northampton Saints, Nathan Hughes - Wasps)
the Bench (for IMPACT)
16 - Brits
23-May (Utility reasons!!!)
Coach of the year- Steve Diamond. The culmination of the turnaround from last season, Dimes has led a combination of youth and experience to a seemingly highly unlikely top 6 finish with only a handful of star names. Can Sale keep progressing next season? That remains to be seen, but there won't be many people underestimating them next time round, that's for sure!
I'll sit back and await the normal level of abuse these sorts of blogs bring.