With just three regular rounds of Premiership action remaining before we can turn our thoughts to the semi-finals, it’s worth highlighting some of the players who have stood out for me this season.
While I have tried to lean away from those who have been away for weeks on end with international duty, in one case it was impossible. The player of the season must embody everything their club represents, and these five do just that.
The Leicester captain has been the galvanising factor in Tigers’ success thus far. He is a brutal carrier, stable scrummager and clearly just gets what his team needs from him.
He is leaving for Bristol in the summer and I think that just how big a loss everyone says he will be is testament to what he brings to the Leicester side.
From the outside, anyway, he seems like the perfect Steve Borthwick-style player and the type you would happily follow into the battle that is a rugby match.
It could have gone either way for big Billy Vunipola after he was dropped by England coach Eddie Jones last year. He could easily have become a shadow of himself but instead he has stepped up and shown grit. You can tell he still has a love for the game and he’s letting his rugby do the talking.
A bouldering character with the ball and a monumental human to break through in defence, he’s really impressed me. His resurgence really is a great advert for his character and something that Saracens have needed in their first season back in the top flight.
How on earth this man has been overlooked by the Springboks is beyond me. The Harlequins centre is so destructive with the ball but also possesses a sophisticated level of skill, too.
He provides his club with great midfield stability and works so well with the players around him in both attack and defence.
Some centres lean significantly towards offence or rearguard but Esterhuizen is so balanced.
The Gloucester captain is a man possessed at the moment; he’s the personification of the Cherry and White culture.
On the fringes of England’s squad, the flanker reminds me of Andy Hazell – a club man who bleeds Gloucester.
He is determined, dogged and seems like such a nice chap – though I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong end of him.
It’s easy to ignore teams in the bottom half of the table, such as Newcastle, despite individuals performing for them week in week out.
McGuigan is the league’s top try scorer with 13 but gets around the park doing his bit for his team.
He oozes the values that the Falcons require in their forwards and could easily be an international in the coming years.
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.