Shorlists for awards announced
Northampton and Saracens dominate the shortlist for the Guinness Premiership Player of the Season award.
Last Updated: 11/05/10 12:11pm
Northampton and Saracens have locked out the five-player shortlist for the Guinness Premiership Player of the Season award.
Former rugby league player Chris Ashton, along with back-row Phil Dowson and prop Soane Tonga'uiha are included from the Saints while South Africans Schalk Brits and Ernst Joubert represent Sarries.
Ashton, the only back nominated for the award, comfortably emerged as the league's top try-scorer while the other four proved dominant forces in the packs of their respective sides.
All five will be involved in the upcoming play-offs, although reigning champions Leicester, who finished the season at the top of the league, did not have a player nominated.
However, Tigers' head coach Richard Cockerill made the shortlist for the QBE Director of Rugby of the Season.
Joining him in contention for the award are Andy Key, who led his unfancied Leeds Carnegie side to safety, and Jim Mallinder of Northampton.
Five youngsters have also been nominated for the Discovery of the Season award, which includes players aged 21 or under at the end of the season.
Scrum-halves Joe Simpson and Ben Youngs, who made his debut for England against Scotland in March, represent Wasps and Leicester respectively.
Forwards James Gaskell (Sale), Courtney Lawes (Northampton) and Andy Saull (Saracens) were also nominated by the panel of experts.