Gallagher Premiership returns: Six box office players to tune in for as the road to Twickenham resumes on BT Sport

With every single Premiership game available to watch on BT Sport until the end of the season, here are six faces to keep an eye on as rugby returns.

By Callum Davis Published: 6 August 2020 - 10.00am

Premiership Rugby is back and it's bigger and better than ever before on BT Sport.

If you're already a subscriber, you can watch every single game left in the 2019/20 season from now until the final at Twickenham live and exclusive on BT Sport. 

Each weekend we'll be showing at least three matches on BT TV - with the remaining games available to live stream via the BT Sport app or online at bt.com/sport.

To get you in the mood for the return of the Premiership, we've picked out six names to keep an eye on with more than 57 games of live rugby to enjoy from Friday 14 August.

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Ollie Lawrence - Worcester Warriors

An all-action, swashbuckling centre in the mould of Manu Tuilagi.

Big billing, perhaps, but Lawrence is already being touted as a potential England starter at the 2023 World Cup in France.

He burst onto the scene in November 2017 with a try on his first team debut against Sale Sharks in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at Sixways.

The 21-year-old continued his impressive progress in 2018/19 when he made 14 senior appearances and scored two important tries that helped Warriors to successive European Challenge Cup victories over Ospreys and Stade Francais.

Having represented England Under 18s, Lawrence was promoted to the England Under 20s side (aged just 18) and played one game in the Six Nations in 2018, before a call-up to train with Eddie Jones' senior squad came in the summer that year.  

After Ted Hill, Lawrence recently became the latest promising young player to commit his future to the Warriors.

"I am over the moon that Ollie has decide to extend his stay with us," said Warriors Director of Rugby Alan Solomons. "He is terrific talent with real X-Factor.

"In his first season at senior level he has established himself as one of the leading outside centres in England.

"As with Ted Hill, I have no doubt that he will soon become a regular in the England team."

Next match vs Gloucester - Saturday 15 August, 12,30pm on BT Sport App

Max Malins - Bristol Bears

Saracens' fall from grace has been good news for Bristol Bears. 

The north London club have been forced to cut a number of players as they prepare for life in the Championship. As part of those cost-cutting measures the reigning Premiership champions have sent two of their most promising young stars on loan to the Bears.

Bristol know all about the threat posed by the fleet-footed, electrifying Malins, whose masterclass from full back contributed heavily to Saracens’ victory at Allianz Park in December.

The 23-year-old, who can also operate at fly half, scored twice in a masterful display, with Saracens Director of Rugby, Mark McCall later comparing Malins to ‘a young Beauden Barrett.’

The former England U18 and U20 international is another of English rugby’s most exciting young talents and has already made 29 appearances in the Gallagher Premiership, scoring 102 points.

Malins’ bright start to the 2019/20 campaign was been hampered by a foot injury sustained against Exeter Chiefs, but the youngster is due back in action this month.

Next match vs Saracens - Saturday 15 August, 3pm on BT Sport 1

Semi Radrada - Bristol Bears

The Bears are very much a club on the up and up.

With a brand-new state of the art training facility and an ever-increasing pool of attacking talent for Director of Rugby Pat Lam to choose from, hopes are high around Ashton Gate.

But it's the arrival of Radrada that has got Bears fans licking their lips.

He's wowed fans in league and union, for club and country, and now he is ready to work his magic in the Premiership.

Formerly of Bordeaux and Toulon, the ex-rugby league winger will bring genuine star quality to Bristol's backline. 

Lam has already billed Radrada as 'one of the best players in the world' and it's a label that fits.

The 6ft 2in Fijian powerhouse was one of the stars of the 2019 World Cup in Japan, making more than 400 metres in just four pool stage games and lighting up the tournament with his devastating blend of pace, power, agility and sleight of hand.

“This is the biggest step in my career,” Radradra told Telegraph Sport in his first interview since he was unveiled as the most marquee of marquee signings. “I was telling my wife it’s going to be a massive challenge for me. Not just the first couple of months, but the whole first year will be a challenge.

“I’ve been watching some Premiership matches and it seems like it’s going to be a big test for me to dominate. I’ll have to bring my A game and see what happens.”

Next match vs Saracens - Saturday 15 August, 3pm on BT Sport 1

Alex Dombrandt - Harlequins

Dombrandt has enjoyed a meteoric rise since joining Quins at the start of the 2018/19 season.

A graduate of Cardiff Metropolitan University, Dombrandt was touted for his powerful running and offload game.

Having taken to Premiership rugby like a duck to water, Dombrandt received a host of club accolades including Supporter's and Player's Player of the Season. He was also named in the BT Sport's Team of the Year for last season.

Dombrandt's dominant performances earned him a call-up for England's Quilter Cup match against the Barbarians at Twickenham, where he scored two tries. 

That performance earned him a spot in Eddie Jones' World Cup training camp but he was a surprise omission from the final squad for Japan. 

Dombrandt's focus will be on proving last season's performances were not a one-off and forcing his way into Jones' plans for the upcoming Eight Nations tournament.

England's pool of talent at number eight goes deep with Sam Simmonds, Zach Mercer, Tom Curry and Billy Vunipola all in the frame for selection but Dombrandt has been the league's most in-form player for some time now.

“He is such a threat with ball in hand, so physical and direct but he’s coupled that with a real intellect," said BT Sport pundit Ugo Monye.

“The lad has gone from playing university rugby just over a year ago to now having the English media calling for him to be in the Six Nations squad. That’s the rise that he has made and that should be an inspiration to everyone else playing lower league rugby.

“He has really paved the way and shown that with really good coaching, loads of hard work and opportunities, you can achieve the heights that he is currently setting.” 

Next match vs Sale Sharks - Friday 14 August, 7.45pm on BT Sport 2

Jack Willis - Wasps

Wasps were a joy to watch before Covid-19 cut the season short and the form of Willis was a huge reason why. 

He was already on course to set a new record for turnovers in a season but one rule change could make the Wasps flanker even more unstoppable.

The introduction of new breakdown laws, which have already taken effect in the southern hemisphere, means scavengers will be rewarded if they can arrive early and address the ball legally.

That's good news for Willis, who was the Premiership’s most disruptive defender before the league's suspension. 

The 23-year-old has won 24 jackal turnovers in the league this season, an incredible number given no other player has won more than 10.

The rangy Wasp, who stands unusually tall for an openside at 6ft 3in, may have been an England regular by now were it not for an ACL injury that scuppered his place in Eddie Jones' 2018 touring party to South Africa. 

Almost two years on, Willis will be desperate for the restart of domestic rugby as he looks to kickstart his international career. Watch this space.

Next match vs Northampton Saints - Sunday 16 August, 3pm on BT Sport 1

Ben Earl - Bristol Bears

Earl joins Max Malins in making the trip west from Saracens and Bristol will be all the stronger for it.

A versatile and powerful back row forward, Earl made his England debut in the Six Nations victory over Scotland at Murrayfield, coming off the bench to help Eddie Jones’ side to regain the Calcutta Cup.

The 22-year-old, who has represented his country at U16, U18, U20 levels, is currently the Premiership’s joint leading try scorer with seven in the opening 12 rounds.

A dynamic ball carrier and fierce defender, Earl can play across the back row and is one of English rugby’s rising stars. He started four games in the 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship and scored a try against New Zealand in the final. In 2018, he captained England in the Six Nations U20s Championship, scoring against both Italy and Ireland.

An impressive U20 Six Nations campaign, as well as a strong season with Saracens, saw Earl called up to the senior England side for the first time ahead of the tour to South Africa in 2018, but it wasn’t until earlier this month that he made his senior international bow.

First and second on Earl's to-do list will be to help Bristol cement their place at English rugby's top table before nailing down a regular England spot. If he can do one, two should come naturally.

“It’s a daunting move in its own way but exciting at the same time; we’re signing for a good team and, hopefully, we can achieve good things," he said.

“I’m looking at this as a refreshing new challenge. People come out of Saracens and you think there’s only one way of doing things, but Bristol have got some incredibly strong players as well and some great game plans so I’m looking forward to tapping into that."

Next match vs Saracens - Saturday 15 August, 3pm on BT Sport 1

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