Wynand Olivier has hailed the influence of close friend and former South Africa teammate Francois Hougaard as their Worcester Warriors side prepare to tackle Harlequins at the Stoop on Saturday.
The Warriors are attempting to win a third consecutive Aviva Premiership Rugby game for the first time since March 2007 against a Quins side who claimed a bonus point 38-25 win over Bath Rugby last time out.
Hougaard initially joined Worcester in February on a short-term deal but has been exceptional in guiding them to three wins in their last four and boosted Dean Ryan’s side further by committing his future to the club.
Olivier played alongside 35-times capped Hougaard at the Vodacom Bulls, where they clinched the Super Rugby title in 2009 and 2010, and the powerful centre says Hougaard’s presence is a huge fillip for Worcester’s youngsters.
“It is great having Francois here, he brings a lot of experience which everyone can draw on, not just on the field, but off it as well,” the ex-Montpellier back said.
“We have a young squad here and it is great for them to learn off him, we have a great couple of lads here.
“I think it is a good thing for the club, it gives everyone a good bit of peace of mind, everyone can learn off him.
“It bodes well for the future, it is something we can definitely build around and he brings a lot to the team.
“The guys are happy, but we are keeping our feet on the ground and just working on what we need to do better.”
Hougaard starts alongside Tom Heathcote in the half-backs as Ryan’s men look to continue their march up the Aviva Premiership Rugby table and although Worcester’s player of the month Olivier has been impressed by Hougaard’s contribution, he acknowledges that the entire squad had upper their level in recent weeks.
He said: “There are a lot of guys that are playing massive roles – guys like Donncha o'Callaghan, Phil Dowson– everyone is complementing everyone.
“If you look at last week, Bryce Heem scored two and people are coming into their own and the lads are all starting to come together.
“Harlequins are a very good side, they have showed it over the last however many games and we are just concentrating on what we have got to do.
“That’s two under the belt and that changes the mood in camp completely, the guys can see that it is possible to close out games.”