Premiership Rugby today confirmed a new accolade to be presented at this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards, recognising the best forward in the top flight of English rugby - The Green Flag Forward of the Season, and Sione Kalamafoni has made the shortlist.
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
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.