Lawes, Smith, Russell & Slade on awards shortlist

Fin Smith standing on the pitch
Fin Smith's performances for Northampton saw him called up to the England squad for the first time this year [Getty Images]

Northampton Saints duo Courtney Lawes and Fin Smith, Bath's Finn Russell and Exeter Chiefs' Henry Slade have been nominated for Premiership Rugby's player of the season.

The league's top four teams are all represented in the director of rugby of the season category, with Phil Dowson (Northampton), Johann van Graan (Bath), Alex Sanderson (Sale) and Mark McCall (Saracens) nominated.

Harlequins prop Fin Baxter and second rower Chandler Cunningham-South, Exeter winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Newcastle flanker Guy Pepper are shortlisted for breakthrough player of the season.

The winners will be announced at the ceremony in London on Wednesday, 22 May.

Northampton finished top of the table despite a defeat by Bath in the final regular season game on Saturday and are aiming to claim their first league title in 10 years.

Ex-England flanker Lawes, 35, who will leave the club at the end of this campaign after 17 seasons to join French side Brive, has started 10 Premiership games for Saints this season.

Fly-half team-mate Smith, 22, made his England debut during this year's Six Nations after impressing for his club.

The Saints duo have also been nominated for the Investec Champions Cup player of the year award after helping their club to the European Cup semi-finals.

Scotland fly-half Russell, 31, joined Bath from Racing 92 last November and has helped lead the club to a first top-four finish in four years.

England centre Slade, 31, signed a new contract with Exeter last week and is currently the Premiership's top points scorer this season.

Player of the season winners in recent years include Jack Willis, Ben Earl and Ollie Lawrence.