Aviva Premiership Team-by-team Guide: Part 2

Aviva Rugby

Here are the next three profiles of our team-by-team guide for the Aviva Premiership – we believe one of these three teams will be the eventual winner.

QuinsTeam: Harlequins
Coach: Conor O’Shea
Ground: Twickenham Stoop
Key players in:
Dave Ward (Cornish Pirates) and Ben Botica (Perigeuex).
Key players out:
Tomas Vallejos (Scarlets), Chris York (Newcastle), Richard Bolt (London Scottish) and Benjamin Urdapilleta (Oyonnax).
Solid pack, anchored by the England Captain Chris Robsaw and arguably the most consistent 8 in the country, Nick Easter. Behind the pack are electric backs who seemed last season to be the most clinical in the league.
2nd season syndrome. They are Champions, the team to beat and will struggle to hold onto that mantle.
Player to watch:
Nick Evans is the best fly-half not playing in the southern hemisphere and with Danny Care supplying him the ammunition, the back line should be all-guns-blazing this season. Mike Brown was unfortunate to be injured in his first start for England for years against the Springboks, since his form last season was scintillating, whilst Ugo Monye will want to remain injury-free and press for further international honours.
Last season:
Deservedly 1st.
They haven’t lost anyone major and have continued with the same policy of blooding youth. Will be a good season, but not quite as good as the last. 2nd.
Website: http://www.quins.co.uk/
Twitter: @QuinsRugbyUnion
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/quinsru
Click here to join the Official Harlequins Fans league on SuperBru

TigersTeam: Leicester Tigers
Coach: Richard Cockerill
Ground: Welford Road
Key players in:
Robert Andrew (Pau), Dan Bowden (London Irish), Matt Cornwell (Mogliano), Verenki Goneva (Tarbes), Adam Thompstone (London Irish) and Miles Benjamin (Worcester).
Key players out:
Julian White (Retired), Calum Green (Leeds), George Skivington (London Irish), Ben Pienaar (Moseley), James Grindal (Bristol), Jeremy Staunton, Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Horacio Agulla (Bath), Alesana Tuillagi (NTT Shining Arcs) and Tom Bowe (Plymouth Albion).
Their pack has always been formidable and this season will be no different. They also seem to have an aura around them, a supreme confidence that even when the chips are down they will get out of the situation – and this means you can never discount them. They prove this annually when they are pushed to the limit and yet always make the play-offs if not more.
With such a talented squad, they lose a huge number of players to International duty, and this season will be no different. Expect a dip in form in November and February/March, but come May they will be very much in the mix.
Player to watch:
Ben Youngs – when fit and in form – is the best scrum half in the country and with Toby Flood, England’s current 10, forms one of the most dangerous half-back partnerships in the league. Meanwhile, expect a big season from Manu Tuilagi in the centre, whilst Miles Benjamin could be a great signing on the wing.
Last season:
Last season they started incredibly poorly with 6 defeats in their first 7 Aviva Premiership and LV Cup games and yet still managed to push Harlequins all the way in the Premiership Final in May.
1st. Somehow you cannot bet against them. They seem to rise to the pressure every time and when their internationals are back and firing, they are one of the best sides in Europe.
Website: http://www.leicestertigers.com/
Twitter: @LeicesterTigers
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leicestertigers
Click here to join the Tigers Fans league on SuperBru

IrishTeam: London Irish
Coach: Brian Smith
Ground: Madjeski Stadium
Key players in:
Halani Aulika (Leeds), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Cai Griffiths (Ospreys), George Skivington (Leicester), Jon Fisher (Bedford), Tomas O’Leary (Munster), Shaen Geraghty (Brive), Ian Humpreys (Ulster), Setaimata (Catalan Dragons), Michael Worrincy (London Skolars RL) and Conor Gaston (Ulster).
Key players out:
Clarke Dermody (Retired), Brain Blaney, Mark George, Fann Rautenbach, Nick Kennedy (Toulon), Bob Casey (Retired), Tom Alexander (Eastwood), Paul Hodgson (Worcester), Adrian Jarvis (Bristol), Dan Bowden (Leicester), Shontayne Hape (Montpellier), Jonothan Spratt (Ospreys), Guy Armitage (Toulon), Adam Thompstone (Leicester) and Delon Armitage (Toulon).
London Irish have always had a quick, mobile back line, equally adept at running the ball as kicking it. With Geraghty and Humpreys in the side they should bring ingenuity and imagination, so we can expect some decent running lines from the Brain Smith playbook.
With so many influential figures gone, they will have to adapt and gel quickly or face the consequences. Their lineout, for years a key asset, may turn out this season to be a weakness: Skivington was a good signing but any injury to him and they will be in trouble.
Player to watch:
Tomas O’Leary is an astute number 9 who will help marshall the side and put them in the right areas, and he should help to get the best out of the forward pack.
Last season:
7th place last season wasn’t actually that bad for Irish, but it didn’t stop a clearout of players and coaches. The boot of Tom Homer kept them involved in many matches where the opposition probably should have buried them and they will be relying on him again this season.
Booth and Catt have both gone to pastures new and both Armitage brothers have moved to Toulon. This wholesale clearout and re-appointment of Brian Smith will take time to make an effect – I expect Irish to struggle this season, but they will probably be well clear of relegation. 10th.
Website: www.london-irish.com
Twitter: @LiRFC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LIRFC
Click here to join the London Irish Fans league on SuperBru

4 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Team-by-team Guide: Part 2

  1. Interesting predictions, although I would agree – Leicester are the team to beat this season.

    Just one thing to let you know:
    “Barnaby Halliday previews the next three most exciting Aviva Premiership season yet by profiling every side competing.”

    I can’t figure out what this means.

    1. Thanks Mike, error noticed and fixed. We’re a bit like the teams in the premiership still a bit ring rusty and getting ready for the new season.

  2. Am glad that Irish cleaned house. The coaching staff tried hard but there were just too many turnovers and dumb mistakes last year. The club has such a great backline and now there’s better personnel (i.e. O’Leary) to make use of the ball.

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