Premiership Rugby today confirmed that six of the brightest young rugby talents, including Gloucester's Elliott Stooke, have been shortlisted for the Land Rover Discovery of the Season award.
Stooke's nomination underlines what a remarkable few months it has been for the second row, who came into preseason recovering from an elbow injury suffered helping England win the Junior World Championship in France.
The 21 year old hadn't featured in an Aviva Premiership game prior to the 2013-14 campaign, his first team appearances comprising of two LV= Cup starts and a replacement appearance in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
But, since appearing as a replacement in the season opener at home to Sale, he hasn't looked back. He has appeared in every Premiership fixture, started five of the club's Heineken Cup games and earned a call up for the
The full Land Rover Discovery of The Season shortlist is:
Jamie Elliott - Northampton Saints
George Ford - Bath Rugby
Elliott Stooke - Gloucester Rugby
Billy Vunipola - Saracens
Anthony Watson - Bath Rugby
Owen Williams - Leicester Tigers
The winner will be announced at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards at the London Hilton, Park Lane on 15th May.
"The 2013-14 campaign has been a remarkable season for the emergence of quality, young English players into Aviva Premiership Rugby," said Mike Hynard Premiership Rugby's Head of Academies and Development.
"More academy graduates are breaking through into Aviva Premiership Rugby sides every season. The result of this is an England squad that gets younger and younger, with the likes of Jack Nowell and George Ford now getting opportunities on the international stage.
"This is a direct result of the expertise, hard work and increasing investment into the Premiership Rugby clubs' academy programmes.
"The academy programmes are better staffed with quality coaches to ensure a more efficient and effective talent identification and player development system that maximises the potential of the talent within it.
"I have no doubt that Aviva Premiership Rugby will see more young English players of even higher quality breaking through over the coming years."
The Land Rover Discovery of The Season award is designed to recognise the most impressive young players in the Aviva Premiership Rugby each season and reward them for their outstanding contribution to the competition.
The winner will follow in the footsteps of some special talents; previous winners have included Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi with Joe Launchbury claiming the prize last year.
To celebrate the player's achievement, they will have the opportunity to become a Land Rover ambassador, for the 2014/15 season.
The shortlist was compiled by a panel of media professionals - Sonja McLaughlan (BBC 5 Live), Hugh Godwin (Independent), Tom Hamilton (EPSN Scrum.com) along with Mike Hynard (Premiership Rugby's Head of Academies and Development). Paul Morgan (Premiership Rugby's Communications Director chaired the panel.
2012-13: Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
2011-12: Owen Farrell (Saracens)
2010-11: Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
2009-10: Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
2008-9: Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins)
2007-8: Danny Cipriani (London Wasps)
2006-7: Tom Rees (London Wasps)
2005-6: Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers)
2004-5: Ollie Smith (Leicester Tigers)
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.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Speaking to the local media after the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys gave an honest assessment of the game, and expressed his pride in the way his young charges had performed against the title-chasing hosts.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby scrum half Callum Braley is excited by the challenge of the West Country Derby, and the ex-Bristol man reveals the squad will be giving their all.
Tongan international forward Sione Kalamafoni returns after injury to take up his usual place in the back row as Gloucester look to finish their season on a high against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.
At the recent London Irish game, personnel from the Imjin Barracks in Innsworth, including Gurkhas, were present, holding a collection to raise funds for ShelterBox to aid relief from the recent Nepal Earthquake Appeal.