It is that time again when everyone with an interest in rugby names their Premiership Team of the Season. I am no different, so here goes.
It took a small amount of debate with City A.M. colleagues but, all in all, this was one of the easiest XVs to put together.
Gloucester loosehead prop Val Rapava-Ruskin was one of the first names to make my Premiership team given his incredible performances throughout the season.
Though he was injured for a short time, the Georgian-born scrummager was unlucky not to have been capped by England in the Six Nations.
Alongside the Gloucester man is West Country rival Will Stuart at Bath. The tighthead, too, had injury issues in the season but has finished as the best No3 in the league for me – few came close to him as the regular-season matches came towards their conclusion.
Between the two props is Leicester’s Julian Montoya. It was a toss-up between Montoya and fellow Argentinian Agustin Creevy but the Tiger took it for his stability throughout the year.
I am not sure anyone would have imagined putting him in their XV at the start of the season but Ollie Chessum walks into my team this year. Having been a revelation in the second row at Leicester, the lock continued to shine for England.
Partnering the Tigers’ lock in the pack is Saracens’ Theo McFarland. A former basketball player, the Pacific Islander has been a sensational addition to the Premiership and makes it into my XV despite suffering an injury in December.
Ben Earl was the first name I listed this year and he has again been astonishing throughout this campaign for Saracens, the flanker cementing himself as one of the best players in England.
Partnering him in the back row are London Irish No7 Tom Pearson and Leicester No8 Jasper Wiese. Pearson has been one of the breakthroughs of the season and is knocking on Steve Borthwick’s door for a spot in the World Cup squad.
Wiese has been the most consistent No8 and has provided the Leicester backs with a solid platform all season. No one has come close in that position in the Premiership.
It’s an all-Northampton affair at half-back with Alex Mitchell making my XV at scrum-half and Fin Smith starting at fly-half.
Mitchell has been by far the best No9 this season and, although he hasn’t been at his very best during the campaign, he has still out-shone his rivals.
Smith began the year at Worcester but has slotted into the Saints backline sublimely following the departure of Dan Biggar. His kicking success percentage is top drawer and there is little that he hasn’t been able to cope with.
Another Worcester casualty, Ollie Lawrence, joins Robert du Preez of Sale in the Premiership midfield.
Lawrence has been paramount in Bath developing from consistent losers into winners, while du Preez was the linchpin for Sale without George Ford and continued in good stead alongside the former England No10.
Cadan Murley of Harlequins makes the XV as the player with the most tries to his name – 15 – while Newcastle’s sensational winger Mateo Carreras lines up on the opposite wing.
The duo have been superb for their countries and a great example of what the Premiership can offer.
The omnipresent Alex Goode completes my Team of the Year with the Saracens veteran again completing a campaign in which he rarely put a foot wrong.
Former England Sevens captain Ollie Phillips is the founder of Optimist Performance, experts in leadership development and behavioural change. Follow Ollie on Twitter and on LinkedIn