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
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Speaking after a last-gasp try from Exeter earned the Chiefs a 27-27 draw at Sandy Park on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted to mixed feelings. The game saw him score a try on his 200th competitive appearance for the club, but the frustration from not closing out the win was clear.
David Humphreys was minutes away from a winning interview on Saturday afternoon, but a late try from Exeter Chiefs meant the points were shared at Sandy Park. Humphreys spoke with the local media after the 27-27 draw.
Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Exeter Chiefs, Director of Rugby David Humphreys reiterated that there are elements of Gloucester's game that are in good shape at present, that the performance against Bath was a step forward from Newcastle but that individual errors are costing the Cherry and Whites dear.
Lesley Vainikolo was a welcome visitor to Kingsholm this week, reminiscing as he wandered around the stadium. The big winger is back in Gloucester to take part in Sunday's Mitsubishi Motors UK Hybrid Cup (kick off 3pm).
Centre Matt Scott, a try-scorer in Bayonne last weekend, insists that Gloucester are taking nothing for granted when they welcome Benetton Treviso to Kingsholm on Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm).