His excellent knowledge of the game, mixed in with his brilliant sense of humour, means David Flatman is one of the best pundits in the sport when it comes to the Gallagher Premiership.
Following each round throughout this season, Flatman has picked his ‘Team of the Week’ and after releasing his ‘Team of the Year’, TRU’s Joe Harvey wanted to compare notes…
1.Joe Marler (Harlequins) – Same
It has just been pure joy to have seen so much of Joe Marler this season in the Premiership. His scrummaging has really taught some of his opposite numbers some lessons and David Flatman seemingly agrees. Marler has simply been top quality this season and it is an odd thought that the former England international will be playing domestic rugby throughout the World Cup period next season.
2.Harry Thacker (Bristol Bears) – Same
It is quite phenomenal that Leicester wanted to get Harry Thacker off the books at Welford Road. Playing some great rugby at Bristol underneath Pat Lam, Thacker really has the world at his feet and is destined to become both a Bristol and Premiership stalwart in years to come.
3.John Afoa (Bristol Bears) – We said WillGriff John (Sale Sharks)
Really, there isn’t too much between our pick and Flatman’s choice! Both played the majority of their matches for their clubs and both had very few poor games. Afoa is probably a more well-rounded player, but we felt that John deserved more credit for starting every Premiership game for Sale.
4.Franco Mostert (Gloucester Rugby) – Same
Another one where we and Flatman have mirrored up. Mostert has been a truly dominant force since arriving in the UK and will hopefully be one for some years yet.
5.Will Skelton (Saracens) – we said Ed Slater (Gloucester Rugby)
It is difficult to disagree with this difference. Skelton has been marvellous for Saracens this season in all competitions. Doing the simple things well is probably the best way to describe the Australian. Big hits and strong carries are the currency that the lock deals in, while Ed Slater is possibly a more athletic version of the Sarries man. It is understandable why Skelton could be preferred.
6.Steven Luatua (Bristol Bears) – Same
Luatua is, essentially, spending the peak years of his career at Bristol and fans of the Premiership get to witness a quite brilliant player in action. Good at every aspect of the game, Luatua would be in an All Blacks shirt if he was still in New Zealand.
7.Tom Curry (Sale Sharks) – Same
Leading the Premiership in turnovers, Curry has just been amazing this season. It is genuinely terrifying that Curry is only 20-years-old as he can only get better in years to come. Here’s praying for a great World Cup.
8.Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby) – we said Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins)
A season where Morgan has returned to the England set-up after three years in the cold, he has been extremely impressive for Gloucester this season. We preferred Dombrandt for his story. It is no secret that Alex is a favourite at TRU, but his adjustment to the big leagues has been seamless. He was a star at university and will be a star for England in years to come.
9.Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints) – same
Having scored 12 tries in the Premiership this season, Reinach has easily been one of the stand out players in this season’s Premiership campaign. Hopefully Reinach will be on a plane to Japan in the coming months as the South African is simply world class.
10.Danny Cipriani (Gloucester Rugby) – same
The Premiership player of the season, Cipriani has been the league’s stand-out star this term. Potentially on the plane to Japan with Eddie Jones and co, Cipriani has been recognised by David Flatman throughout the season as a top level performer, so it is no surprise to see the fly-half in his team of the year.
11.Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby) – Same
Flatman has put McConnochie onto the wing, where the former sevens man has played the majority of his rugby this season. Making our Premiership team of the season too, we put McConnochie at full-back to accommodate other players. McConnochie probably played more rugby than he was even anticipating but is already on his way to becoming a club legend.
12.Mark Atkinson (Gloucester Rugby) – we said Nick Tompkins (Saracens)
We put Nick Tompkins into the team because of his top performances for Saracens when called upon by Mark McCall. With many of his best games coming off the bench, it isn’t too difficult to understand why Flatman preferred Mark Atkinson. The former Sale man linked up superbly with Cipriani at the start of the season, with injury disrupting the centre’s season on a couple of occasions.
13.Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs) – we said Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints)
We preferred Hutchinson because of the way that he broke onto the scene this season. Having been in Northampton’s senior side for some time, this was the first time that Hutchinson had maintained a spell in the first team. Slade has arguably enjoyed his best ever season in the Premiership too, nailing down a spot in the England team as a result. Again, Hutchinson was preferred for the amount of games he has played in the league and his immense ability when attacking.
14.Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby) – Same
Another player having a breakthrough season in the Premiership was this 22-year-old wing. It is odd suggesting that this was a breakthrough, when the Gloucester man made his debut for the club aged 17, but his powerful play out on the flanks was recognised by many including Bath legend David Flatman.
15.Alex Goode (Saracens) – We said Bryce Heem (Worcester Warriors)
We selected Ruaridh McConnochie at full-back while Bryce Heem slotted on to the wing, but for Flatman, Alex Goode wore the 15 jersey with McConnochie on the flanks. Now, this may be a touch harsh from us, but we felt that Goode’s best performances came in the Champions Cup. Undoubtedly, the 31-year-old is one of the best players in Europe, so there is no disputing that Flatman’s choice of full-back isn’t a good one, we just preferred Heem’s style of play and importance to his team.
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