Tom Wood wins Premiership player of the season award
Northampton Saints lock scoops top award after memorable first campaign with Midlands club
Northampton Saints and England lock Tom Wood has been crowned the Aviva Premiership player of the season.
Wood beat team-mates Brian Mujati and last year’s winner Chris Ashton as well as Saracens’ Schalk Brits and Leicester’s Thomas Waldrom to land the accolade at England’s elite rugby awards ceremony in London on Tuesday night.
The 24-year-old flanker, who was signed from relegated Worcester last summer, has been a sensation since his debut against Leicester when he was named man-of-the match.
Wood is now sidelined with a hairline fracture to his fibula but his performances have helped the club reach the Heineken Cup final and the Premiership play-offs this season.
He still hopes to face Leinster on 21 May at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff but has been ruled out of Northampton’s Premiership semi-final on Saturday.
“I’ve definitely enjoyed my time at the Saints. It couldn’t have gone much better really,” said Wood.
“‘I knew I had a challenge to establish myself as a Saints player, especially with the quality players that we have in the back row, and everything else has been a bonus.
“I certainly had no hesitation in signing a new contract and have no intention of going anywhere else.”
Wood’s impressive season, including a first senior cap against Wales and an appearance in every Six Nations game this year, helped England win the championship for the first time in eight years.
Saints coach Jim Mallinder, who picked up QBE director of rugby of the year award ahead of Saracens’ Mark McCall and Rob Baxter of Exeter, has rewarded the flanker with a two-year contract extension at Franklins Gardens.
The club also had five players feature in this season’s ESPN Dream Team as chosen by former England players Austin Healey and Ben Kay.
Meanwhile, the season’s best young player prize -the Land Rover Discovery of the season award -went to Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi who beat Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell.
ESPN Dream Team:
15 M Brown (Harlequins); 14 D Strettle (Saracens), 13 M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), 12 A Allen (Leicester Tigers), 11 C Ashton (Northampton Saints); 10 J Gopperth (Newcastle Falcons), 9 D Care (Harlequins); 1 S Tonga’uiha (Northampton Saints), 2 S Brits (Saracens), 3 B Mujati (Northampton Saints), 4 C Lawes (Northampton Saints), 5 T Hayes (Exeter Chiefs, capt), 6 T Wood (Northampton Saints), 7 J Burger (Saracens), 8 T Waldrom (Leicester Tigers).