Andy Hazell - leading the way in the tackle count this season
Bruce Seabrook/GPA Images
ANDY HAZELL is the top tackler in the Guinness Premiership after five rounds of matches, figures from OPTA show.
After five rounds, the Gloucester openside has made 60 tackles, a staggering 12 per game and a total of eight more than another England hopeful, Saracens' Dave Seymour.
The top five is completed by three more back row players, Northampton Saints' Darren Fox and London Wasps' Joe Worsley on 42 tackles and Sale Sharks' Magnus Lund on 40.
Back row players were obviously eager to impress with the autumn internationals on the horizon, as London Wasps' Tom Rees carried for 126 metres in their match against Newcastle Falcons, the most of any player in round five. Rees was however just one metre ahead of his team mate Tom Voyce.
Following the Wasps duo were two men of the moment in the centre. Saracens' Ben Johnston made 115 metres in their victory over Bath Rugby, whilst Mathew Tait made 103 metres in Newcastle Falcons' defeat at Adams Park. Worcester Warriors' Lee Best completed the top five, making 93 metres against Gloucester Rugby.
Premier Rugby Chief Executive Mark McCafferty said: "The Guinness Premiership is really starting to take shape and players are starting to hit their straps just in time for the Heineken Cup. Players are also using the intensity of the Guinness Premiership to show Andy Robinson that they are worthy of consideration for the autumn internationals. I hope their club form carries into the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup matches this weekend."
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).