After a stunning year there was plenty of competition for places in the BT Sport Dream Team announced at the Aviva Premiership Rugby awards on Wednesday night.
Captained by Exeter Chiefs skipper Dean Mumm, the team features senior internationals, exciting young stars and understated workhorses who all proved vital for their sides this campaign.
Lighting up the back line is the Bath Rugby triumvirate of Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson and Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season George Ford, with all three impressing in breakout years for both club and country.
Joining Joseph and Ford in the midfield axis is Land Rover Discovery of the Season Henry Slade, who was in the top 25 for carries, metres made and defenders beaten, despite also taking over kicking duties for Exeter Chiefs mid-season with aplomb.
Citizen Try of the Season winner and Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson partners Ford in the half-backs, while teammate Christian Wade takes his spot on the wing after a 12-try season that saw him beat 62 defenders.
Rounding out the backline is Newcastle Falcons flyer Sinoti Sinoti, who made more metres than anyone else in Aviva Premiership Rugby with 1641 and beat a stunning 85 defenders to also top that chart.
And Wasps star Wade admits that the chance to play in such a dynamic back line would be a dream come true.
“In the centres Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph have been outstanding for their clubs this year so to be on the outside of them would be awesome for me,” he said.
“It’s an exciting time to be a young rugby player in the Premiership. This season has been one of the great season in the history of the competition.
“It’s been an awesome year for everyone, the game is growing and it’s a great era to be a young player in.”
A front row equally at home in the loose or the set piece sees Matt Mullan of Wasps and Tomas Francis of Exeter Chiefs pack down either side of Saracens’ Jamie George.
Mullan enjoyed yet another consistent year and Francis impressed in his first Premiership season, while George deputised for the injured Schalk Brits in thrilling fashion, appearing in all 22 rounds of action.
In the second row, inspirational skipper Mumm is joined by Leicester Tigers lynchpin Graham Kitchener, who topped the lineouts won chart with 80 and had the joint top number of steals with 12.
And a stunning back row sees Exeter Chiefs wrecking ball Dave Ewers partner Bath’s Francois Louw and Green Flag Forward of the Season Nathan Hughes of Wasps.
Ewers’ breakthrough year saw him nominated for Land Rover Discovery of the Season, finishing third in the tackle count (226), sixth in the carries made (200), while adding in 19 offloads and 17 turnovers for good measure.
Louw went one better in the turnovers won count despite only playing 12 games due to injury, while Hughes topped that chart with 24, also making the third-most carries (238), beating more defenders than anyone bar Sinoti (71), while adding in a remarkable 37 offloads.
And Mumm admits it would be a honour to lead such a team as he prepares to leave Chiefs to return to Australia.
“It’s an amazing team and an honour to be named captain of it,” he said.
“I’m going back home but will be leaving the Chiefs with a heavy heart, it’s a special place and certainly one I’ve learned to love over the few years I’ve been here.
“We play hard and enjoy ourselves so it will be a place I really miss.”
BT DREAM TEAM
Anthony Watson – Bath Rugby
Christian Wade – Wasps
Jonathan Joseph – Bath Rugby
Henry Slade – Exeter Chiefs
Sinoti Sinoti – Newcastle Falcons
George Ford – Bath Rugby
Joe Simpson – Wasps
Matt Mullan – Wasps
Jamie George – Saracens
Tomas Francis – Exeter Chiefs
Graham Kitchener – Leicester Tigers
Dean Mumm – Exeter Chiefs – Captain
Dave Ewers – Exeter Chiefs
Francois Louw – Bath Rugby
Nathan Hughes – Wasps
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