- Willie Le Roux – Wasps
The South African fullback has been central to Wasps gameplan all season. They are a nightmare to defend off of set pieces, as their screen plays and good handling gets Le Roux on the outside of defences all too frequently. That has led to the former Springbok assisting his teammates to the try-line 21 times over the season. That is 8 more times than anyone else in the league. His footwork and slick ball-handling skills make him one of the most dangerous attackers in England.
- Vereniki Goneva – Newcastle Falcons
Falcons fans should be extremely grateful towards Leicester Tigers for letting the Fijian winger leave a couple of seasons ago. The Tigers, in contrast, will be kicking themselves, as the speedster has proven that there’s still plenty of power left in his old legs. He is the tournament’s joint top try-scorer this season with 13, but it is the times that he scores the five-pointers which has been key to Newcastle’s amazing season. He scored two last weekend to help his side beat Tigers at Welford Road and secure a semi-final place. One of the moments from this season that will live long in the memory is when the big man paid homage to Alan Shearer with his celebration in St. James Park.
- Henry Trinder – Gloucester
Finally we are beginning to see the best of Gloucester’s outside centre. The 29-year-old was plagued with injuries early on in his career but this season he has managed to stay in peak fitness and become a mainstay in Gloucester’s starting XV. A lot of Gloucester’s audacious attacking play comes directly through the number 13. His offloading and footwork has led to his side scoring a lot of tries from deep in their own half. The most memorable of these was Billy Twelvetrees score against Worcester in round 4. The centre touched the ball twice in the movement, as he made a scintillating break from his own 22 before giving the killer offload inside to his centre partner to go under the posts.
- Matt Toomua – Leicester Tigers
The Tigers have had a frustrating season to say the least. A poor European campaign, followed by missing out on the playoffs will have the Tigers faithful looking for more next season. However, one good thing that has come out of 17/18 is the emergence of their former Wallaby as the heartbeat of the backline. George Ford has received a lot of criticism this season, so he must be happy to be playing inside a guy that gives him great help in calling plays and controlling the game. The game of rugby has moved on from the crash and bash first centres of old, with second-fives these days possessing a much more substantial array of skills. Toomua seems to be a perfect mix of the two, standing at an impressive 6ft and 90kg, but possessing the distributary and kicking skills of a fly-half.
- Josh Adams – Worcester Warriors
Worcester’s young Welshman has had a season to remember. His keen eye for the try-line has helped keep his side away from London Irish at the foot of the table. He is currently joint top try-scorer with 13, the 5th highest carrying back, 5th in defenders beaten and he is also 5th in metres made. Staying injury-free and impressing against superior sides led to the 23-year-old being capped by his country during the Six Nations. A long international career could await if he can transfer his club-form innto the Test arena.
- Danny Cipriani – Wasps
Wasps’ maverick out-half is due to leave in the summer but he’ll be hoping to leave the fans on a high, as his side turnout in the playoffs in a couple of weeks. As said previously, Wasps are a nightmare to defend from set-pieces and it is Cipriani’s crisp, flat passing that enables them to get on the outside. The England international finally seemed to have found a place that suited his style of play, with Gopperth taking the pressures of the kicking-duties off of him and offering him free reign to run the game from stand-off. A huge miss for Wasps next season, with the Gloucester-bound utility back earning a deserved re-call to the England side.
- Faf de Klerk – Sale Sharks
Sale’s talismanic number 9 has played in every game in the league this season. He has taken on the place-kicking duties when AJ MacGinty has been rested, taking his total points-tally to 97 this season. Defences have had to keep their wits about them around the ruck area when playing the Sharks this season. The springbok scrum-half has been an eternal threat from the base, making 16 clean breaks, scoring 4 tries and getting 11 try-assists. A recall for the South African international side seems imminent and it will be more than deserved if it happens.
- Sam Simmonds – Exeter Chiefs
The Chiefs number 8 is the Premiership’s top-scoring forward for the 17/18 season. He has managed to get over the whitewash on 12 occasions, which is a strike-rate that any winger would be proud of. He has averaged a try every game, which helped Exeter to finish 1st in the table in the regular season by some way. A solid Six Nations campaign showed us that the youngster is going to have a pivotal role in the England side for some time to come. The only question that remains is whether he will be deployed in the number 8 shirt, or whether he will be shifted to openside to accommodate Billy Vunipola.
- Don Armand – Exeter Chiefs
The Zimbabwe-born back rower has played in all 3 positions at the back of the scrum this season. He would be an incredible addition to any side in the league, which makes it even more perplexing that Eddie Jones has continually left him out of an England team, lacking in international-quality back-rowers. He managed to get over the try-line 6 times, was one of the league’s top 20 carriers and was a pillar for his team at the lineout.
- Jake Polledri – Gloucester
Gloucester’s back-row was one of the strongest in the league this season, with Moriarty, Ackermann, Ludlow and the young Polledri causing defences havoc, with their hard running-style and impressive offloading. The young Italian international had to compete for his place at blindside but was just as effective when flanking in the 7 shirt. He beat more defenders than any other forward with ball in hand (54) leaving him 8th out of the leagues best attackers. He only managed to get over for a couple of tries but his tackle success rate of 97% was probably enough to keep him in Gloucester’s plans for many years to come.
- Jonny Hill – Exeter Chiefs
We have described Exeter’s lineout dominance already but it cannot be stated without mentioning the fact that Jonny Hill claimed the ball 100 times for them there this season. He was the only player in the Premiership to do so, emphasizing just how impressive a feat that was. He is also a good ball carrier and managed to get over for 5 tries for the Chiefs in the regular season. At just 23 years-old, you would imagine he will be hoping to travel with England to South Africa this Summer.
- Callum Green – Newcastle Falcons
Newcastle’s re-emergence as one of England’s top teams could not have happened without the hard graft being done in the engine room. Their tight 5 players have been key to playing on the front-foot all year. Green has played in 20 out of 22 games for them in the league, which is extremely impressive for a player that plays so abrasively. He had the 6th highest tackle tally of any player in the league with 247. He won the 2nd most lineouts in the league and was also highly-disruptive to other teams at the set-piece.
- Vincent Koch – Saracens
Saracens’ scrum is a force to be reckoned with and the strength of their South African tighthead is one of the primary reasons for that. He breaks the mould for tightheads in the league, being extremely useful in the loose as well as at scrum time. He averaged over 3m per carry this season, which was crucial to allow Saracens’ impressive backline run off of front-foot ball. Although unlucky with injuries towards the end of the season, it would be impossible to leave him out of our TOTS given his earlier performances.
- Schalk Brits – Saracens
It is with a heavy heart that the world of rugby will bid farewell to Sarries’ unconventional hooker at the season’s end. Although he didn’t play as frequently as usual, given the emergence of Jamie George as a key player, he averaged a try every 80 minutes, which was a fantastic turnover for his side. He was again the league’s top offloader, showing us on many occasions that his handling is up there with the best in the Premiership. What a loss he will be to Sarries next season, and what a shame that he didn’t get more opportunities to play on the international stage (11 Caps).
- Ellis Genge – Leicester Tigers
Another youngster that is tipped for big things. His ability to bounce off defenders has earned him the nickname of the Baby Rhino and that is extremely appropriate. He is a force to be reckoned with at the scrum, while offering ball-carrying abilities reminiscent of a young Cian Healy. The youngster is definitely a baby in terms of prop years, and one would imagine that he won’t hit his peak for at least another 5 years, which is a very scary prospect.