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
Gloucester-Hartpury Women take on West Park Leeds Ladies in the final of the Intermediate Cup Final on Saturday. Head Coach Susie Appleby took time out to preview the game and chat about the future for the team.
Number eight Ben Morgan admitted that the 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol on Friday evening hadn't been pretty at times, but that the win was based on everyone in the squad remaining united and working for each other.
Previewing Friday evening's local derby at Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that Gloucester's preparations have gone well and that the whole squad is united in trying to finish the season on a high.
Speaking to GRTV this week, Acting Head Coach Jonny Bell spoke of his pleasure in the efforts and intensity in training from the squad after a tricky few weeks. The team were preparing for big games with Bristol and Cardiff in coming weeks.
Willi Heinz was understandably and visibly disappointed when he spoke to GRTV after the 27-30 home defeat to Harlequins, apologising to the home support as the game slipped away after seemingly having the game under control.
Speaking to the local media this week, Scottish centre Matt Scott spoke of the squad's determination to put in a big home performance against Harlequins, with vital points up for grabs in the hunt for a Top Six spot this Saturday (KO 3pm)
In the aftermath of the Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell was able to look forward to this weekend's European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues (Kingsholm, kick off 8:05pm).