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Premiership Rugby

Zurich Premiership XV – May

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Fullback – Jason Robinson (The Sharks)A peerless attacking player, Robinson regular try-scoring feats have helped keep the Sharks pushing for title honours this season, the diminutive former Rugby League star causing no end of problems for opposition defences with his dazzling footwork and lightning accleration.

Wing – Mark Cueto (The Sharks)Another key man for the Sharks, Cueto scooped the Zurich 'player of the month' award earlier this year and his form has catapulted him into the England reckoning for the World Cup in October. A powerful customer, his direct running and fine support play puts him second on the list of the Premiership's try-scorers.

Centre – Will Greenwood (NEC Harlequins)One of the most creative players in world rugby, Greenwood has been a rallying point for Quins during a troubled season for the Londoners – even filling in at No.10 for them during an injury crisis earlier in the season. But it is at centre where his attributes are most apparent.

Centre – Braam van Straaten (Leeds Tykes)He may be on his way across the Pennines to Sale Sharks at the end of the current season, but Van Straaten is giving absolutely everthing to the cause in his last few appearances for the Tykes. Always fully committed in attack and defence, it is his goal-kicking which is his main contribution to the Yorkshire team.

Wing – Ben Gollings (NEC Harlequins)The England Sevens star helped his country to defend their Hong Kong title this season and the pace which make him so effective in the abbreviated game has also made the 22-year-old a key attacker in club colours during Quins' return to form in the latter half of the season.

Scrum-half – Rob Howley (London Wasps)The former Wales captain has lost none of the skills that earned him the reputation as one of the world's leading scrum-halves during his glittering international career and the 32-year-old has been instrumental to Wasps' excellent Zurich Premiership form, which sees them currently closing in on place in the upcoming play-offs.

Fly-half – Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle Falcons)As influential for his club as he is for England, the architect of his country's recent Grand Slam has continued his superlative Six Nations form to help the Falcons fight their way back from the relegation zone. His recent performance in the win over Northampton was a masterclass in No.10 play, with his metronomic goal-kicking and tactical sense stealing a vital result away from under the noses of the Saints and helping ensure that Premiership rugby continues in the North East.

No.8 – Tony Diprose (NEC Harlequins)One of the unsung heroes of the Quins side, the gifted No.8 gets through a huge amount of work on the field and has formed a highly effective back row alongside the likes of Andre Vos. His 12-cap England career may be behind him, but Diprose still has plenty to offer to the game.

Flanker – James Forrester (Gloucester)A player who is gaining a cult following amongst the Gloucester faithful, Forrester's attacking talents are well-documented, his outstanding performance in Gloucester's recent Powergen Cup win over Northampton one of the highlights of a great year for the 21-year-old. Indeed, many believe that Forrester could squeeze into England's RWC 2003 squad.

Flanker – Andrew Blowers (Northampton Saints)Spent his early career at Auckland alongside New Zealand back row legend Michael Jones and some of the 'Iceman's' magic has rubbed off on the former All Black who has had a major impact for the Saints this season. A huge hitter in defence, the versatile Blowers rarely fails to make ground in attack.

Lock – Mark Andrews (Newcastle Falcons)The former Springbok lock has been a major influence at Kingston Park since arriving at the Falcons in the latter half of the season, his huge experience as his country's most capped forward utilised to the full in helping to drag Newcastle out of the relegation zone and into safety.

Lock – Garath Archer (Bristol Shoguns)The former England second row may be set for a move back to his native Newcastle at the end of the current season, but he is certainly not about to rest on his laurels for his current club Bristol who are attempting to fight thier way out of the relegation zone. As competitive as ever, Archer has been at his rumbustious best.

Prop – Jason Leonard (NEC Harlequins)You may have thought that the veteran prop would be taking it easy having become England's first Test centurion during the Six Nations championship, but Leonard is still doing the business at the club coalface for Harlequins. Unmovable in the set-piece, Leonard is one of the key men for his club.

Hooker –  Olivier Azam (Gloucester)At the heart of Gloucester's mighty forward effort this season, the French international offers tidy skills in the set-piece and a real willingness to get the ball in his hands and make ground up the middle of the paddock. He will be sorely missed at Kingsholm if, as mooted, he leaves at the end of the season.

Prop – Trevor Woodman (Gloucester)Tipped as a future Lions loosehead by those in the know, Woodman's power-scrummaging is a key feature of his play but he is also more than happy to act as a mobile ball-carrier in the loose. Already capped 13 times for England, he is almost certain to take part in their RWC 2003 campaign.


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