The names to look out for in the English top flight this season


Gallagher Premiership Players to Watch 2021-22

The Gallagher Premiership season kicks off this weekend, with 13 teams involved in the English top flight in 2021-22. But who should you be looking out for?

We’ve highlighted players to watch at each of the Premiership clubs – and don’t miss the in-depth team guides in Rugby World’s start-of-season issue 2021-22.

Gallagher Premiership Players to Watch 2021-22


Cameron Redpath has supreme potential, a canny passing game and an array of running lines.

An ACL injury has stalled his rise, but when fit we should see the Scotland centre leap forward.

Bristol Bears

Harry Randall is as slippery as an eel and even more electric. With heads-up, have-a-go rugby, the 23-year-old has thrived. Defences around the league will be worried about what the nine can do from the ruck base.

Exeter Chiefs

Although capped in 2017, Jack Maunder goes under the radar when discussions turn to England’s scrum-half options. At 24, there’s still plenty of time to change that narrative.


After a Lions tour and a breakout year last time, we are all still very, very excited about wing Louis Rees-Zammit, right?

It’s cheesy, but you know the ‘Rees Lightning’ thing is here to stay. He’s a hit on TikTok. He is still incredibly young. A marketer’s dream; a defender’s nightmare.


We can’t wait to see Christian Scotland-Williamson, the giant lock back after three years as a tight end for Pittsburgh Steelers. The former Worcester Warrior says the NFL has given him a “more honed skill-set”.

Leicester Tigers

England U20 captain, a Grand Slam, Player of the Championship – 2021 is going well for Jack van Poortvliet.

The 6ft scrum-half offers the sort of running threat we once associated with his idol and team-mate Ben Youngs.

London Irish 

It feels almost unfair to split up the young back-three tyros who have been so fun to watch for Irish.

Ollie Hassell-Collins has been the player to catch most of the headlines but Ben Loader is another excitement machine and then there is Tom Parton at full-back as well.

Exiles fans must love seeing new names sprinting out of their production line, into the league.

Newcastle Falcons

We highlighted Adam Radwan’s talent at the 2017 Singha Sevens. Four years on, the 23-year-old is a regular Premiership scorer, an England wing and – helped by a top speed of 10.6m a second – he’s whizzing towards a possible Rugby World Cup place in 2023.

Related: Downtime with Newcastle wing Adam Radwan

Northampton Saints 

Still only 21 years old, wing Ollie Sleightholme is precisely the kind of young flyer that Saints head coach Chris Boyd enjoys throwing in and allowing to play his own game.

Taqele Naiyaravoro and now Courtnall Skosan will generate a lot of interest because of their reputations (and how the larger of the two can be, ahem, utilised from set plays), but it’s players like Sleightholme who make you want to track the club’s progress.

Sale Sharks

The virtual tug of war between Scotland and England over the future Test allegiances of front-rowers Ewan Ashman and Bevan Rodd has been fascinating to behold.

And in prop Rodd, the buzz is real. Keep your eyes on him.


More playing opportunity last season really helped young back-row Sean Reffell advance and the 22-year-old had director of rugby Mark McCall waxing lyrical about his potential.

His interventions at the breakdown and in defence caught the eye last season.


Charlie Atkinson came to fame for being knocked out by Owen Farrell. He’s shown lots of class in the ten shirt, and slightly less so at full-back where he played for England U20’s Grand Slam winners.

Newly promoted from the academy, he faces a big year once he’s recovered from the knee injury suffered in pre-season against Coventry.

Worcester Warriors

With Duncan Weir gone, how gratifying for Worcester to see the key role played by their teenage fly-half Fin Smith in England U20’s Grand Slam this summer.

Smith was a model of composure in that campaign and scored 31 points.

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