Rugby Union Betting: Gavin Hastings's Aviva Premiership Preview

The challengers

At the start of any season there’s always a huge amount of optimism and Leicester (2.75) are always going to be there or thereabouts, with Saracens (3.50) also set to compete well this year. Harlequins (6.00) are going to be competitive from now on because Connor O’Shea is such a great man - I think the winners of the Premiership will come from those three.

Saracens may feel a little hard done by, having won the main division, only to lose in the play-offs. That’s the nature of the play-offs and it makes for an exciting climax to the season. Saracens will know better than anyone that it’s about what happens in those final weeks, but sometimes it’s difficult to keep the whole thing going when it really counts.

Leicester had six or seven players away with the Lions, whereas Quins had a lot less, so that means they’re fresher coming into the new season. But it’s a long campaign, and while its good to have the top international players in your team, sides like Leicester must ensure they’re not over reliant on them – they must all have big squads nowadays to deal with that problem.

It promises to be an exciting season with some cracking games. We can expect some brilliant rugby, with some new names coming to the foreThere’s no doubt that the Premiership has been a fantastic competition over the past few years and it will only keep growing in popularity.

Battle for London

There could be some intriguing battles among the London clubs this season, and it’s tough to separate them, but I’d have to say Saracens are 1.55 favourites in this market for a reason and should secure the London bragging rights again. 

Top try scorer

Plenty of players will catch the eye with their scoring this season and Tom Varndell (9.00 favourite) has been very impressive. I remember watching him with the England sevens years ago and he’s certainly got a huge amount of pace. He knows his way to the try line and will score plenty of tries this season. 

It will interesting to see how George North gets on at Northampton, too. It will be lovely to see him get the ball and get himself a few tries, and he's someone I’d consider a good bet to end the season as top try-scorer – he certainly won’t be short of confidence after the Lions tour and will be raring to go in the Premiership. He's available at a generous 17.00.

Top points scorer

In terms of top points scorer overall, Nick Evans will surely have another strong season after topping this market in the last campaign. But I think Freddie Burns could enjoy a very strong campaign for Gloucester. He’s a good player and brings a lot of positivity to the Gloucester back line and is good value at 8.00. Stephen Myler is a very good kicker and he too could rack up the points for Northampton.

Nick Evans always seems to be there or thereabouts as the Premiership’s top scorer but, at 33, he’s getting on a bit and you have to wonder how long he can keep bringing the points in.

The strugglers

No one wants to predict who will struggle, but you have to look at Newcastle Falcons (3.00), Exeter (25.00), London Irish (3.75) and Sale (5.00) to be the sides that will be fighting for their survival come the end of the season.

A team like Exeter have come along well and perhaps don’t get the credit for the way they have played. They are more than capable of causing an upset every single week, so I will tip Newcastle to go down this time around.

See our full range of Aviva Premiership bets here.