Team of the season: from Leicester backs to Saracens' Boks

Chris Hewett selects his best XV from an intriguing Premiership campaign that reaches its climax at Twickenham today
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The Independent Online

15 Alex Goode (Saracens)

If he's this hot as a full-back – and his form is molten at the moment – what might he achieve in his optimum position of outside-half?

14 Chris Ashton (Northampton)

A try-poacher, but nobody's idea of a goal-hanger. The cross-code wing brought something fresh to the Premiership and could do the same for England.

13 Dominic Waldouck (Wasps)

Considered lacking in the "X-factor" department by the England selectors, he forced them into a change of mind with a series of eye-catching displays.

12 Olly Barkley (Bath)

A latecomer thanks to complex injury problems, the occasional England midfielder made up for lost time by delivering Test-quality performances at every turn.

11 Scott Hamilton (Leicester)

Time and space are the two principal indicators of class, and the New Zealander has them in abundance. Hugely effective in a quiet sort of way.

10 Toby Flood (Leicester)

His moment is coming. Indeed, it may already be here. Subtly inventive and quicker than he appears, his game-management skills are developing by the day.

9 Ben Youngs (Leicester)

A bright spark playing bright, sparky rugby for employers who know how to keep him honest. Potentially the best, performing in the best possible environment.

1 Soane Tonga'uiha (Northampton)

The Pacific Islands teams tend to struggle at the set piece come World Cup time. Eight Tonga'uihas would sort them out. An absolute bull.

2 Schalk Brits (Saracens)

If his work in the tight was a squillionth as good as his work in the loose, the South African would be a Springbok 50 times over.

3 Dan Cole (Leicester)

The find of the season and a potential saviour for England. Just a boy in tight-head terms, but he has something of the man-child about him.

4 Dave Attwood (Gloucester)

A shard of toughened steel at the heart of a powder-puff pack, the lock restored some old-fashioned values to the mix at Kingsholm.

5 Marco Wentzel (Leeds)

The central figure in a transformative season for Leeds: top captain, top line-out operator, top everything. Worth his weight in gold ingots.

6 Phil Dowson (Northampton)

The man who put the "work" in the Midlanders' work ethic and a priceless asset as a multitasking back-row forward.

7 Julian Salvi (Bath)

Utterly brilliant when his colleagues were anything but, the departing Australian should make a real name for himself at next year's World Cup.

8 Ernst Joubert (Saracens)

The Watford-based club can recruit as many South Africans as they like if they are this good. A high-calibre footballer with a resilient streak.