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The Premiership - Rugby Union: Five players to watch

The new 2022/23 Premiership season kicks off on Friday, with Bristol taking on Bath, while Sale host Northampton.

Leicester Tigers are the reigning champions and are 4/1 to retain their title after a busy summer which has seen plenty of comings and goings in the transfer market.

However, it is not just new faces who have a point to prove and we've picked out five players to keep an eye on in the upcoming campaign.

What2022/23 Premiership season
WhenFriday 9th September 2022 - Saturday 27th May 2023
WhereEngland
How to watchSelected games on BT Sport and Channel 4
Odds (outright)Saracens 7/4, Leicester 4/1, Exeter 11/2, Harlequins 6/1, Sale 9/1 

Anthony Watson - Leicester Tigers

A knee injury ended Anthony Watson's nine-year spell at Bath prematurely and he starts a new chapter at Leicester Tigers, who are 3/1 to top the regular season standings.

If pre-season is anything to go by, his recovery from an ACL rupture is going well and he has a history of coming back from such fitness woes, having twice previously torn his Achilles.

Watson's combination with Freddie Steward will be interesting to watch, with both surely huge parts of Eddie Jones' plans for next year's World Cup and there is a real chance of them exchanging time between wing and full-back.

Now 28, the Ashford-born star has developed into the all-around package and is amongst the classiest finishers on the planet when in full flight.

Having shone at The Rec, his fresh start at Welford Road could come at the perfect time for his career.

Henry Arundell - London Irish

After scoring four tries for England's under-20s in their 2022 Six Nations campaign, London Irish's Henry Arundell capped off a breakthrough season with another try against Australia in the senior side's first Test defeat in Perth.

Successful cameos in the second and third matches contributed to a series win Down Under and he looks to be competing with fellow youngster Tommy Freeman of Northampton for a place in Jones' matchday 23 come the autumn.

With Watson, Jack Nowell and Jonny May all offering something different, the Red Rose are well stocked but Arundell is special. The way in which the 20-year-old scythed through both Wasps and Toulon last season was particularly impressive and his searing pace gives him a real x-factor.

Will he be at full-back, or will he be selected on the wing for the Exiles? Either way, he'll be electrifying.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto - Northampton Saints

With Teimana Harrison, Tom Wood and Api Ratuniyarawa all departing, Northampton, 14/1 to win the Grand Final, needed reinforcements up front.

Angus Scott-Young looks a good signing, as does his former Reds team-mate, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.

At 25, and with Dave Rennie seemingly not seeing him as someone who can add anything fresh to the Wallabies in the near future, the move to Franklin's Gardens feels like a chance for a career reboot.

While capable of playing at lock, Salakaia-Loto's mobility means he plays his best rugby in the back-row, with blindside seemingly his position of choice.

That said, Courtney Lawes' preference for that role is likely to see him pushed forward to fill the void left by Ratuniyarawa's departure.

Wherever he plays, Northampton's history of getting the best out of Antipodean players who have perhaps struggled elsewhere means he could be in the right place to do something special.

Jonny Hill - Sale Sharks

Now seemingly ensconced as Maro Itoje's first choice partner in England's second row, Jonny Hill revelled in his role as the pantomime villain during that series victory in Australia.

Whatsmore, he also stood up in Itoje's absence for the final 40 of the second Test and the decider, guiding youngster Ollie Chessum through the game.

After so much success at Exeter, the 28-year-old's decision to move north raised eyebrows and he will play a big part in replacing South African World Cup winner Lood de Jager in the Sharks' pack.

With Sale also signing George Ford ahead of the new season, they will need to produce good ball and the grunt provided by Hill can only help.

However, he is so much more than that and Alex Sanderson will see him as a crucial player as the north west outfit look to secure a top four finish, with them 9/1 to top the standings.

Charlie Atkinson - Wasps

He might be just 20 but with 36 senior appearances and an England call-up already, there is something special about Wasps' Charlie Atkinson.

The fly-half made the number 10 shirt his own in the second half of last season, with fellow tyro Jacob Umaga set for a bench role in the early months.

A challenge for Atkinson will be how he steps up without the studying influence of Jimmy Gopperth outside him but new boy Burger Odendaal provides a big ball-carrying action, while Ryan Mills is in the Gopperth mould of a second-receiver.

The Kiwi's departure also places greater emphasis on Atkinson as a goal-kicker but if he wants to be a regular member of the England squad, he'll need to be reliable in all facets of his play.

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