Leicester Tigers have a habit of converting rough diamonds into shining hookers and assistant coach Richard Blaze says he was impressed by the latest star off the production line in the LV= Cup on Saturday.
Jake Farnworth may still be wet behind the ears but the converted back-rower made his Tigers debut against London Irish in a gutsy 17-16 win.
And it could hardly have gone better, a 100 per cent success rate in the line-out impressed coaches and team-mates alike.
And much like current Tigers and England sensation Tom Youngs – originally a centre before his transition to front-row – Farnworth appears to have taken to the task at hand like a seasoned professional.
“For Jake to come in on his debut and get statistics like 100 per cent on his lineout, it’s outstanding really,” said Blaze.
“He’s been converted, much like Tom Youngs was, from the back row and has been performing fantastically in the academy.
“There are obviously things he needs to work on, the set piece is one of those, but there are plenty of things to build on as well because he has been impressive.
“A few of the senior players spoke to me and said how impressed they were with the likes of Jake and Charlie Beckett.
“Tommy Bell was also really good, but the Madejski is a great place to go for backs, it’s a lovely new pitch and that’s exactly what you want.
“The LV= Cup is all about the development, it’s a good chance to look at some new players and a good chance for those who have been injured to also get a run out.
“Overall the level of quality in the academy is looking really bright, it’s an exciting time for the club over the next couple of years certainly.”
Tigers gave debuts to Farnworth, Charlie Beckett, Oli Bryant and Paul Grant against Irish, while there was also a starting debut for recent signing Tommy Bell.
Many of those are expected to take to the field again when Sale Sharks come to town on Sunday, and Blaze insists he has no qualms with throwing the youngsters in at the deep end.
“It was a gutsy defensive performance against Irish,” added Blaze. “It wasn’t the best technically in terms of making tackles but seeing young lads putting their bodies on the line is a good sign of a winning mentality already instilled.
“It’s nice to see that at such a young age, but if you are defending for that period of time you are going to crack eventually, but thankfully we saw it out and we’ll certainly be looking to get another win against Sale.”
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