The boffins at Opta were asked to analyse every match in this season's Aviva Premiership Rugby competition studying a number of areas including tackles made, performance at the breakdown, penalties conceded, line outs won, metres gained and carries by all members of the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby packs.
Only forwards who played 13 or more matches in the Aviva Premiership Rugby season were eligible and the following shorlist was created:
Schalk Brits - Saracens
Nick Easter - Harlequins
Sione Kalamafoni - Gloucester Rugby
Samu Manoa - Northampton Saints
Michael Paterson - Sale Sharks
Tom Youngs - Leicester Tigers
"Forwards don't always get the recognition they deserve so we thought it was important to add this category to the list of Awards this year," said the Rugby Director at Premiership Rugby, Phil Winstanley.
"These six have made a huge impact this season and I am grateful to the team at Opta for the work they put in every week analysing every moment of every match in Aviva Premiership Rugby."
On 15 May the winners of the following Awards will be announced:
· Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season
· Aviva Community Player of the Season
· Land Rover Discovery of the Season
· Guinness Director of Rugby of the Season
· ITV Sport Try of the Season
· Gilbert Golden Boot
· Top Try Scorer of the Season
· BT Sport Aviva Premiership Rugby Dream Team
· Gatorade Game Changer of the Season
· Green Flag Forward of the Season
The other shortlists will be announced over the next three days.
The winners will be announced on Thursday 15 May at the sold out Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards at the Hilton, Park Lane.
The event will be covered live on Twitter via the @premrugby account