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
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.
Matt Kvesic was a try scorer and recipient of the Man of the Match award in Sunday's 35-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Zebre. He praised the Italian side for their spirited opposition and admitted that next week's return game will be a tough one.