Premiership Rugby

Premiership's Underrated XV Of The Season Heading Into 2024

Premiership's Underrated XV Of The Season Heading Into 2024

This is the Gallagher Premiership underrated team of the season ahead of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations, consisting of players who have overperformed so far.

Jan 4, 2024
Premiership's Underrated XV Of The Season Heading Into 2024

As we pass the halfway mark of the 2023-2024 Premiership season, it’s time to take stock of all that’s happened so far, and in particular, the players who have gone under the radar.

While some stars have gathered plenty of plaudits, there are others who deserve their just reward. Here, we take a look at the underrated starting XV of the season so far:

1. Fin Baxter (Harlequins)

Stepping in to fill the shoes of Harlequin's Joe Marler is no easy feat, but 21-year-old Fin Baxter has made it look easy, quickly molding into the perfect sidekick. 

He’s been a rock at the scrum and is unfazed by the big stage, impressing when he came on to replace Marler after 30 minutes at Twickenham in the latest instalment of Big Game.

2. Harry Thacker (Bristol)

Harry Thacker has been a consistent performer for some time, but he never seems to get sufficient recognition. 

This season, he’s already scored five tries and has the best lineout success rate of any hooker in the league, so not only is he a clinical runner, he’s also delivering deadly darts from the touchline.

3. Thomas du Toit (Bath)

While a lot has been said about the quality of the Bath backline, less has been said of the pack, specifically the dominance of the scrum. 

The arrival of Thomas du Toit in the summer has given the West Country outfit some real venom in its set piece. It also helps that the 28-year-old South African has a penchant for scoring tries.

4. Rusi Tuima (Exeter)

Since breaking onto the scene for the Exeter Chiefs, Rusi Tuima has been nothing short of sensational. 

The hulking 6-foot-5 second row is a mammoth of a man who brings to mind a young Will Skelton when gracing the field. He’s technically proficient, physically imposing and already has scored four tries this term.

5. Alex Coles (Northampton)

Much of a second row’s job is about work rate, and Alex Coles never stops working. 

Since October, he’s accrued 105 tackles, been the center of a slick Saints lineout unit and has even had time to offer up a fair few offloads when operating in attack. He’s been the complete package.

6. Hanro Liebenberg (Leicester)

While the Leicester Tigers have been underperforming, one man has stood above the rest and carried the team. 

Hanro Liebenberg didn’t miss a minute in the opening eight rounds, securing more balls in the air than any other lineout jumper in that time. He also scored four tries and has remained a physical nuisance at the breakdown.

7. Guy Pepper (Newcastle)

Speaking of physicality, Guy Pepper has been a one-man army on defense for the Newcastle Falcons, making 121 tackles so far this season. 

In his latest game against Saracens, he made a staggering 34 tackles, equally the single-game league record in a performance that marks out his huge potential.

8. Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins)

After getting dropped by England, Alex Dombrandt has morphed into a beast for Harlequins. 

He’s now the team captain and is relied upon for his leadership, but his ball-carrying really has lit things up. He’s made more gain-line carries (66) than anyone else, which has put him right back in the England conversation.

9. Gus Warr (Sale)

There’s a lot of hype surrounding Ben Spencer right now, and rightly so, though that means not enough attention is being put on Gus Warr, who is commanding the Sale Sharks pack with consummate ease. 

While Spencer stands out for his try-scoring, Warr sets himself apart with the accuracy of his kicking.

10. Fin Smith (Northampton)

Amidst all the talk of who should start at fly-half for England, one name gets rudely ignored: Fin Smith. 

The Northampton Saints playmaker has been the exception so far this season, accruing 67 points – the fourth in the league – all while spearheading the most clinical backline operating in the topflight at the minute.

11. Will Muir (Bath)

Of all the stars in the Bath backline, Will Muir might be the most underrated. 

He’s quickly developed a strong relationship with Finn Russell and shown his ability to finish in the corner, but what’s most striking is the brute force he brings to the tackle area.

12. Benhard Janse van Rensburg (Bristol)

It seems Benhard Janse van Rensburg is the perfect fit for the Bristol Bears. Not only does he offer a bruising crash-ball option in the midfield, he’s also incredibly adept at offloading, perfectly complementing the free-flowing attacking style which Bears like to operate.

13. Henry Slade (Exeter)

It feels silly to say, but Henry Slade is not getting enough credit at the moment. 

After taken over kicking duties, he is the top points scorer in the league, has scored four tries and has done all this while surrounded by young, inexperienced players. He’s the glue that’s holding the Exeter Chiefs together.

14. Adam Radwan (Newcastle)

Plenty of people have been salivating over Gabriel Ibitoye and his hot-stepping runs, but fewer people have been cheering for Adam Radwan, who has beaten 31 defenders, all while getting limited ball, playing for a team that has been second-rate for much of the season.

15. Goerge Furbank (Northampton)

Much like Slade, George Furbank has plenty of plaudits, but he deserves even more credit for the way he’s been playing recently. 

His kicking and decision-making with the ball in his hands have been nothing short of spectacular while commanding the backfield for Northampton.

If he continues on this path, a return to the international stage may be on the cards.