TOP BAR - Fixtures

Green Flag Forward of the Season Shortlist announced

Leeicester Tigers legend Martin Corry this week joined members of rugby media to select the shortlist for the Green Flag Forward of the Season – and the selection process was extremely fierce following glittering seasons for a host of Aviva Premiership Rugby players.

Corry headed a judging panel consisting of Emma Thurston from Out On The Full, Andrew McKenna of TalkSport and Neale Harvey of the Rugby Paper to run the rule over Aviva Premiership Rugby’s most consistent performers. The panel was chaired by Premiership Rugby’s Communications Director Paul Morgan.


The final list was whittled down to just six with the shortlist of:

  • Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints)
  • Maro Itoje (Saracens)
  • George Kruis (Saracens)
  • Nili Latu (Newcastle)
  • George Smith (Wasps)
  • Billy Vunipola (Saracens)

Corry admitted selecting the nominees was as tough around the judging table as the players’ performances have been on the field for their clubs in Aviva Premiership Rugby.

"To make this list is a great achievement," said Leicester Tigers legend Corry. "It was such a tough selection.

"We have spoken about so many talented and impressive guys.  If you look at the impact and durability they have had to last the Aviva Premiership Rugby season, their ability to perform week-in-week-out and also the capabilities to take it even further is amazing."

The winner will rub shoulders with the biggest names in English rugby at the glittering sold out Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards ceremony at the London Hilton, Park Lane presented by BT Sport's Craig Doyle.

Along with the winner of the Green Flag Forward of the Season –  on 18 May –  the winners of the following Awards will also be announced:

  • Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season
  • Aviva Community Player of the Season
  • BT Sport Dream Team
  • Citizen Try of the Season
  • Gilbert Golden Boot
  • Women's Premiership Players’ Player of the Year
  • Guinness Director of Rugby of the Season
  • Land Rover Discovery of the Season
  • Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Player of the Series
  • Trivento Top Try Scorer of the Season

Corry explained why each had been nominated, and starting with the ball carrying ability of England and Saracens’ No.8 Vunipola, he said: "What I really like about Billy Vunipola is his consistency wasn’t there especially in the big games, but this time he has really stepped up and he is playing as well in the big games.

"You look at his impact for England; he was phenomenal, especially in the early rounds of the Grand Slam.

"He is without doubt a phenomenal ball-carrier and the reason he is always going to be in the team is because of his ball-carrying and his off-loading game, which is developing."

Another to establish himself for England this season as Eddie Jones’ men lifted the Grand Slam is Vunipola’s Saracens’ team-mate Kruis and Corry is convinced he’s now his country’s premier second row. 
"At the start of the season when you looked at who should be the England second-row pairing, he was perhaps third out of the three options alongside Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes coming into the Six Nations," said Corry.

"His early season form for Saracens made you think he was not just third choice, he is actually now number one.

"You always look at a second row’s set-piece, his has really kicked on and he has become a dominant force there.

"His work-rate really sets him apart as does his ball-playing, his ball-carrying, but his general doggedness, which are key attributes you want from a second-row. He has had a phenomenal season.

"We’re looking at second-rows as a real position of strength now; Kruis has massively put his hand up and is leading the way."

The third Saracens player on the shortlist is second row Maro Itoje. Corry said: "Whenever there is something positive, he is there right at the start of the performance. Whether it is the first phase, or it is with the rucks and mauls, he is there hitting them and his work-rate.

"His durability, he is constant it seems like he has played every single second for Saracens because he just stays there and doesn’t get injured. He is always there, a bit like Kruis. His standards stay at such a high level.
“The second-half against Wasps and how he was in the internationals. That is where you see real quality players, when they perform at a high level and then they can raise their game depending on the quality of the opposition."

Veteran flanker Smith has caught Corry’s eye since moving to Aviva Premiership Rugby with Wasps last summer – his scavenging at the breakdown has allowed Dai Young’s creative backline to flourish.

"There’s a danger that we just buy foreign players that don’t really add an awful lot, it is just that they are available but with Smith at Wasps, he looks from the outside like he has changed the culture of how they are going to play" said Corry.

"Listen to the Wasps players talk, he gives them a new way of looking at the game, he builds new skills.

"He has gone in and helped out with Eddie Jones and England because of the standards he sets himself and because of the way he has come in and played. His impact on English rugby has been huge."

Corry is tipping Harrison for England honours in 2016 after the Saints back-rower has produced a series of barnstorming performances in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season.

His nomination may never have materialised though but for a chance meeting with England skipper Dylan Hartley in New Zealand. When Hartley returned to his old school in New Zealand in 2011, he identified Harrison as a talented prospect, and was promptly invited over to join Northampton by boss Jim Mallinder – the 23-year-old has not looked back since.

"I think the impact of Harrison on Northampton – they have not had a great season – but you have to look for guys who have really put their hand up and stepped up to the mark and I think he has been immense just in how he has tried to drive Northampton forward with his all-encompassing style," said Corry.

"His ball carrying in particular has been immense for them and so often when you look at who are the stars of the season, you just look at the best side, but sometimes it is the mark of a man when teams are struggling, to really stand out and Harrison has done that and big things await him."

Corry also singled out Latu for his performances for Newcastle this season, highlighting how impressive it is to make the short-list after playing in a side fighting in the bottom half of the table.

"When you’re looking at key forwards and why Newcastle are staying up, you can point a big finger at Latu," said Corry.

"I think he has been just immense and at times he has been carrying the side, and when you look at the big games they’ve won and the reason why they’ve stayed up – he’s been the difference between the two sides.

"I think it is a great credit to him that he is able to shine, but with what Dean (Richards) and John Wells are doing up in Newcastle, to bring in people like that as they’re looking to go forward they are going to say – we’ve got someone to build a future round."

All the winners will be announced first on Twitter via the @premrugby account on the evening of 18 May. Use hashtag #AvivaPremAwards to join the conversation or follow @GreenFlagUK #rugbytribe

Past Winners of Green Flag Forward of the Season

2014 – Nick Easter (Harlequins)
2015 – Nathan Hughes (Wasps)

Latest News

London Irish name side for Ealing Trailfinders clash

London Irish have named a 30-man squad for this Friday’s pre-season clash with Ealing Trailfinders at Hazelwood (kick-off 7.30pm). The…

Gloucester Rugby announce line-ups for preseason friendly at Leinster

Gloucester Rugby will give game time to a number of their first team squad in Leinster on Friday evening as…

American rugby players and coaches to get once in a lifetime opportunity

THIRTY American rugby players and coaches are being handed the chance of a lifetime to train in England with Premiership…

Stephen Myler: Northampton Saints ready to fight for the title

Stephen Myler is predicting the closest ever Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign and believes his Northampton Saints side will be right…

Sonatane Takulua expecting big things from Newcastle Falcons this season

Sonatane Takulua believes unity and a collective purpose, combined with an improved playing pool, can help propel Newcastle Falcons up…

Sonatane Takulua

Wasps name team for first pre-season fixture against Ulster

Dai Young has named a 26-man squad to take on Ulster Rugby at Kingspan Stadium in the first pre-season fixture…

Anglo-Welsh Cup 2017-18 launched

WORCESTER WARRIORS have the honour of hosting the opening match in this year’s Anglo-Welsh Cup on Friday 3 November, when…

Leicester Tigers win the Anglo Welsh Cup

Ally Hogg pleased by Newcastle Falcons’ early progress

Ally Hogg believes Newcastle Falcons are well set to attack the new Aviva Premiership season after a double dose of…

Ally Hogg

Topsy Ojo relishing Exiles return to Aviva Premiership Rugby action at HQ

Topsy Ojo believes there could be no more fitting way for London Irish to announce their return as an Aviva…

Newcastle Falcons’ Sonatane Takulua sees Philadelphia trip as a ‘great opportunity’

Newcastle Falcons’ Sonatane Takulua insists his side’s September clash with Saracens in Philadelphia will be no holiday for the players,…

Sonatane Takulua

Harlequins statement: Luke Wallace and Jonas Mikalcius

Harlequins can confirm today (Tuesday 15th August) that flanker Luke Wallace dislocated his hip during the pre-season friendly against London…

Luke Wallace

London Irish kick-off Anglo-Welsh Cup at home to Bath

London Irish will host Bath Rugby at the Madejski Stadium in the opening round of the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Saturday…

London Irish kick-off Anglo-Welsh Cup at home to Bath

HITZ graduate secures first full time job after being inspired by Premiership Rugby final

A teenager from Leigh who overcame a troubled home life and tackled confidence and communication issues thanks to Premiership Rugby…

Lucy Neal

Nick Kennedy delighted with first pre-season hit-out for London Irish

London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy is looking forward to seeing his side build on Saturday’s thrilling contest against…

Nick Kennedy

Philadelphia bound Nick Civetta can’t wait for American Series challenge with Newcastle Falcons

NICK CIVETTA HAS had an unlikely path to the top level but as he prepares to embark on his second season…

Nick Civetta

Demetri Catrakilis relishing chance to reunite with old friend Tim Swiel

Harlequins fly-half Demetri Catrakilis has revealed he is ready to join forces with  compatriot and old acquaintance Tim Swiel – insisting…

Worcester Warriors to use number of players in Hartpury test

Warriors will look to use up to 37 players during their fixture against Hartpury College this Saturday in their first…

GJ van Velze

Emergency Services workers invited to London Double Header

Saracens are offering up to eight free tickets to any member of the London Emergency Services for the upcoming London…

London Double Header

Newcastle Falcons teams for double-header v Doncaster and Nottingham

Three-time French title winner Maxime Mermoz is among the Newcastle Falcons players making their debuts in Saturday’s home double header…

Nili Latu