Five Players to Watch in the Aviva Premiership this Season

0
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25: (L-R) Danny Care, Captain of Harlequins, Jack Lam, Captain of Bristol Rugby, Brad Barritt, Captain of Saracens, Gerritt-Jan Van Velze, Captain of Worcester Warriors during the Aviva Premiership Rugby 2016-2017 Season Launch at Twickenham Stadium on August 25, 2016 in London, England. Harlequins will play Bristol Rugby and Saracens will play Worcester Warriors at Twickenham in the London Double Header on Saturday September 3rd. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Aviva)
With the season fast approaching, Steve Kendall picks five players to watch in the Aviva Premiership as the season develops and progresses

Five Players to Watch in the Aviva Premiership this Season

Ellis Genge
LEICESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Ellis Genge of Leicester Tigers looks on during the pre-season friendly between Leicester Tigers and Ospreys at Welford Road on August 26, in Leicester, England. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)
LEICESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 26: Ellis Genge of Leicester Tigers looks on during the pre-season friendly between Leicester Tigers and Ospreys at Welford Road on August 26, in Leicester, England. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

After touring with England in their summer whitewash of Australia, Genge has now moved clubs for the 2016/2017 season from newly promoted Bristol to Leicester and is really starting to flourish into one of the most promising young players in the league.  The former No.8 moved to the front row three years ago and is still learning his craft which he will continue to do under the tutelage of Richard Cockerill and his forwards coaches.  Yet there is an excitement about the athleticism he brings to the position that means he can be one of the most mobile front rowers since the likes of Matt Stevens left the Premiership.

Josh Hohnek

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - JULY 09: Josh Hohneck of Highlanders is tackled by Facundo Isa of Jaguares during a match between Argentina and Highlanders as part of Super Rugby Rd 16 at Jose Amalfitani Stadium on July 09, 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Gabriel Rossi/LatinContent/Getty Images)
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – JULY 09: Josh Hohneck of Highlanders is tackled by Facundo Isa of Jaguares during a match between Argentina and Highlanders as part of Super Rugby Rd 16 at Jose Amalfitani Stadium on July 09, 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Gabriel Rossi/LatinContent/Getty Images)

The 30 year-old Highlander will provide strength & flexibility to the Gloucester pack but won’t find the switch from Super Rugby to Aviva Premiership down at Kingsholm an easy one.  He will not be immediately available, having first to complete an international tour with the NZ Maori but when he arrives, the coaches will be grateful for his ability to play on either side of the scrum and his defence.  The other kiwis at the club will help him settle in and he could become the sort of player the shed faithful really take to.

Thomas Young

COVENTRY, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17: Thomas Young poses for a portrait during the Wasps squad photocall for the 2016-2017 Aviva Premiership Rugby season on August 17, 2016 in Coventry, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
COVENTRY, ENGLAND – AUGUST 17: Thomas Young poses for a portrait during the Wasps squad photocall for the 2016-2017 Aviva Premiership Rugby season on August 17, 2016 in Coventry, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

He made several high impact interventions from the bench for Wasps last season and is now expected to take the place of his outgoing mentor – George Smith.  He is possessed with a delightful pair of hands and can play off either, yet his robustness (despite not being the biggest) is an asset that will serve him well in a league that tests that facet of a player like no other.  His breakdown work will mean that, if ultimately paired alongside a recovered James Haskell, there will be a double threat over the ball and their backs will welcome the chance to use turnover ball to devastating effect.

Alex Lozowski

poses for a portrait during the Saracens squad photocall for the 2016-2017 Aviva Premiership Rugby season on August 30, 2016 in St. Albans, England.
poses for a portrait during the Saracens squad photocall for the 2016-2017 Aviva Premiership Rugby season on August 30, 2016 in St. Albans, England.

Signed initially as replacement for the retiring Charlie Hodgson, it seems that Owen Farrell’s injury may provide Lozowski with the opportunity to start the season at 10 for the champions.  Wasps reluctantly said goodbye to the talented 23 year-old earlier this year with Dai Young quoted as saying: “We really wanted him to stay.  We certainly had big plans for him here.”  It will be hard for him to keep Farrell out when he ultimately recovers & it may be that Alex Goode gets the nod to switch to the 10 position but if Lozowski is given a go, it will be fascinating to see how he copes with the pressure of being the main man in the main team.

Harry Mallinder

Belfast , Ireland - 26 August 2016; Harry Mallinder of Northampton Saints during the Pre-Season Friendly game between Ulster and Northampton Saints at Kingspan Stadium, in Ravenhill Park Belfast. (Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Belfast , Ireland – 26 August 2016; Harry Mallinder of Northampton Saints during the Pre-Season Friendly game between Ulster and Northampton Saints at Kingspan Stadium, in Ravenhill Park Belfast. (Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

This could be his season.  His impact for the England under-20s in the World Cup was devastating and whether he plays at 15 for the Saints team or moves up to the 10 position as he did at international level, he has all the attributes to make a huge statement across the premiership, although he may also become a marked man as a result.  If he stays fit, he can become the Northern Hemisphere’s equivalent to Israel Folau.

“Main Photo:”

LEAVE A REPLY