At the end of the Aviva Premiership season,
Oval Talk highlights its Team of the Year.
NB: The side is exclusively based on
1 - Soane Tonga'uiha (Northampton)
The Tonga international started the season
brilliantly and is the best loosehead in the league. He is great in the tights
and around the park and would walk into any team.
2 - Schalk Brits (Saracens)
Brits is a hooker but he could play
anywhere; the man is a rugby genius. He was voted Players' Player of the Year
last season and is regarded as one of the most exciting players in the
Premiership. He flawlessly carries out his duties in the scrum and is a real
threat in the loose.
3 - Carlos Nieto (Saracens)
Nieto has been at the centre of Saracens'
success this season. Many people would have plumped for Northampton's Brian
Mujati, but Oval Talk loves how Nieto is an old-fashioned number three. He
quietly gets on with his job and does what he has to do with precision.
4 - Mouritz Botha (Saracens)
This South African is very clever at the
lineout and typifies everything that is good about Saracens; an incredible work
rate, loyalty and selflessness. Botha puts in countless tackles every game and
he batters opposing players.
5 -George Robson (Harlequins)
Quite possibly the most honest player in
the Premiership and equally as talented. Robson is a powerhouse at the lineout
and just as comfortable in the scrum as he is with the ball in hand on the
6 - Tom Johnson (Exeter)
Newly-promoted Exeter were everyone's
favourites to go straight back down this season. But the Chiefs' pack has been
exemplary and Johnson is the heart of it. The German-born forward leads by
example and is, in a word, outstanding.
7 - Craig Newby (Leicester)
If only the trains ran like him; Newby is
Leicester's Mr Reliable and plays with a consistency OT can only dream of.
There are not many better at reading the game and his defensive play is
8 - Ernst Joubert (Saracens)
Joubert, just like Botha, epitomises
Saracens' style of play and work ethic. His spatial awareness is second to none
and he covers so much ground. Sublime at the lineout and the breakdown and has
the best hands of any number eight in the Premiership.
9 - Joe Simpson (Wasps)
Simpson has been the one shining star in an
otherwise forgettable season for Wasps. When you look at the stats the man has
scored more tries and covered more ground than any other scrum-half. Should
make England's World Cup squad.
10 - Nick Evans (Harlequins, pictured)
The Kiwi is world class. OT could leave it
there, but that would not do Evans justice. He is so pleasing on the eye and
lethal on the counter attack, reads the game brilliantly and is the best
all-round fly-half in the league. What a pity he hails from New Zealand.
11 - Alesana Tuilagi (Leicester)
Tuilagi has been immense in the second half
of this season. Once Tuilagi starts running there is no stopping him - that is
why he is the top try scorer in the league with 11 this season. If the rules
allowed it he would throw the kitchen sink to stop an opponent; he gives
everything for his team.
12 - Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu (Gloucester)
Hogwarts must be missing a wizard because
Fuimaono-Sapolu has been magical for Gloucester this season. He has that
something extra which every 12 should have. His passing just leaves OT wanting
to see more and when he is in full flight it is a pleasure to watch.
13 - Manu Tuilagi (Leicester)
Martin Johnson will be pleased this guy is
English-qualified: he is exactly who you want in the middle of the field. The
latest Tuilagi to grace the Premiership makes the Hulk look puny, such is his
power. He can also score a try or two.
14 - Chris Ashton (Northampton)
Ashton would walk into a World XV right
now. Everyone knows him for his swallow-dive celebration and he is almost
unstoppable going forward. He is also wonderful in defence and will be key for
Northampton in the closing weeks of the season.
15 - Alex Goode (Saracens)
OT was very pleased to see Goode move from
fly-half to full-back earlier this season as it has proven to be his best
position. He has not looked back and his performances deserve a place in England's
World Cup squad.