Scrum coach Boris Stankovich has praised young Leicester Tigers front-rower Ben Betts following the 21-year-old’s European Cup debut.
In the Irishman’s fourth senior appearance for the club, replacing South Africa international Pat Cilliers in the 55th minute of the Round 5 Champions Cup fixture against Castres Olympique on Sunday, Betts impressed his mentor Stankovich in the set-piece and open play.
Speaking from the Stade Pierre Fabre, Stankovich said: “He gets through a lot of work. Not only is he going well in the scrum and improving all the time, he is very handy out in open field.
“That is something you look for in a modern-day prop, to be able to do that really well and do two jobs in one.”
A key figure in the Ireland Under-20s squad that reached the Junior World Championship Final in 2016, Betts joined Tigers after previous spells with Young Munster and Munster.
At a club which prides itself on impact at scrum-time, Betts is also not only catching the eye of those in charge of the set-piece but head coach Matt O’Connor as well according to Stankovich.
“Matty has been watching him very closely and he’s got his opportunity tonight and he has taken it, so that’s a credit to Ben,” Stankovich said.
Betts admitted to being “surprised” when told of his selection in a grouping of front-rowers which included internationals Cilliers, Michele Rizzo and Tatafu Polota-Nau, as well as captain-for-the-day Greg Bateman.
After defeat in Leicester’s first-ever trip to Castres in the south of France, Betts was as sombre as the rest of the squad though he does now have a European debut to look back on.
“Getting on there was a great opportunity and, although it’s not the result we wanted, there’s a first time for everything and I’m really happy to get it under my belt,” he said.