Leinster and the Ospreys have been given a massive pre-Magners League Grand Final boost by having no fewer than seven of their players named in the 2009/10 Magners League ‘Dream Team’.
Selected by a panel of 16 media experts from the three Celtic nations, who have been following the Magners League all season, the 'Dream Team' features players from no fewer than seven of the 10 clubs in the competition.
Recently crowned Irish and Welsh Player of the Year, Tommy Bowe, polled the most votes, 12 on the wing and one at centre, while Edinburgh's young flyer Tim Visser, who celebrates his 23rd birthday on Grand Final Saturday, received eight votes in both wing positions.
There are no fewer than three players from the Grand Finalists behind the scrum – Ospreys duo Bowe and centre James Hook are joined by Leinster centre Brian O'Driscoll. Up front, Ospreys prop Adam Jones and flanker Jerry Collins join Leinster No 8 Jamie Heaslip and lock Leo Cullen in the pack.
"It can be no surprise that the top two teams in the Magners League regular season are supplying almost half of the 'Dream Team'. They have both had excellent seasons and are set to provide us with a thrilling end in this weekend's inaugural Grand Final," said Celtic Rugby Director, David Jordan.
"It is interesting to see six members of the 2009 British & Irish Lions squad being included in the side and there are also seven Grand Slammers from the Welsh and Irish triumphs in 2008 and 2009.
"That shows the increasing quality within the Magners League and there is no doubt the level of competition has grown dramatically this season thanks in no small measure to the introduction of the Play-Off system.
"I know the judges had a tough task in selecting their side and as well as the many big names they have included, there are also a host of other stars who have failed to make it this time."
Newly crowned Amlin European Challenge Cup Champions Cardiff Blues have Kiwi full back Ben Blair and loose head prop Gethin Jenkins in the line-up, although No 8 Xavier Rush was pipped by one vote in his position by the outstanding Heaslip.
Beaten Play-Off semi-finalists Glasgow Warriors have record breaking outside half Dan Parks included at No 10 with a massive 11 votes, while openside flanker John Barclay was another outstanding favourite with 11 selections.
This is the fourth season the Magners League 'Dream team has been selected at the end of the campaign and there are some familiar names in the 2009/10 line-up. Heaslip is the only player to have appeared every year, while Bowe makes it three in a row and Blair makes the XV for the third time. Jenkins, Jones and O'Driscoll were also included in last year's team.
Michael Merrins, Managing Director, Magners said, "I would like to add our congratulations to every player who has been selected for the Magners League Dream Team. The team truly reflects this season's competition and the players chosen represent the exciting brand of rugby played in the Magners League."
"Once again there has been some fantastic rugby played this season and the introduction of the Play-Offs has seen the competition go from strength to strength. With seven players from the Dream Team on show tomorrow night the Grand Final promises to be a fantastic showcase for the Magners League."
Magners League DREAM TEAM 2009/10
15 Ben Blair (Cardiff Blues)
14 Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
13 Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster)
12 James Hook (Ospreys)
11 Tim Visser (Edinburgh)
10 Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors)
9 Tomas O'Leary (Munster)
1 Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues)
2 Ken Owens (Scarlets)
3 Adam Jones (Ospreys)
4 Leo Cullen (Leinster)
5 Ali Kellock (Glasgow Warriors)
6 Jerry Collins (Ospreys)
7 John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors)
8 Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)