Harlequins full-back Mike Brown has picked up the Aviva Premiership player of the season award.
The 26-year-old England international fought of the likes of top try scorer Vereniki Goneva from Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints’ Samu Monoa.
Also on the shortlist for the prize was Chris Pennell of Worcester Warriors, Saracens’ Namibian flanker Jacques Burger and Sale Sharks captain Dan Braid.
Brown has only scored five tries this year, but they have come at important times, scoring in the final match of the season against Bath to reach the play-offs. But it has been Brown’s pace and trickery that have caused defences’ problems, helping the Quins to claim that fourth spot.
He has also been as impressive for his country, having won the RBS Six Nations Player of the Championship award back in March. Yet, he wasn’t the only man to be rewarded for their stellar performances this season, with Saracens’ number eight Billy Vunipola collecting the Discovery of the Year.
The prize is given to the best under-23 player of the year, and Vunipola has staked his claim to make that shirt his own for the Sarries and England.
Australian-born Vunipola needed to fend off Bath’s George Ford, who was top points scorer in the season and also a favourite to claim the award. Gloucester’s Elliott Stooke, Leicester Tigers fly-half Owen Williams, Bath’s Anthony Watson and Northampton’s Jamie Elliott were among the other nominated. Saints’ winger Elliot also collected the try of the season award, after his fine effort against Gloucester in round three.
Fellow winger George North ran half the pitch before offloading the ball, finally reaching Elliot, who ran the final 40 metres to touch down under the sticks. As for off-field accolades, Mark McCall retained his title as coach of the season, after guiding Saracens to a record points total in the Aviva Premiership, as well as, their first ever Heineken Cup final.
The New Zealander joined the London-based club for the start of the 2009-10 season, where he guided them to the Premiership final that year.
He also helped them to the top of the table last year, but lost out in their play-off semi-final to Northampton.
Yet, they will want to forget the past and look ahead to what could be a domestic and European double.
Saracens take on Harlequins on Saturday in the play-offs, before heading to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to take on Toulon in the Heineken Cup on the following weekend.
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