Ged Glynn says the group of young Leicester Tigers players were “exceptional” at the World Rugby U20 Championship.
Tom Hardwick, Joe Heyes, Sam Lewis, Jordan Olowofela and Ben White were part of the England squad that finished runners-up to hosts France, former back-rower Sam Grahamslaw gained invaluable front-row experience with Scotland and Tommy Reffell captained Wales with distinction.
Glynn, Tigers’ head of rugby operations, hopes the players can build on their performances this summer and go on to challenge for places in the Tigers squad in the coming seasons.
“I thought they were exceptional,” said Glynn. “Collectively, they showed spirit, determination and an ability to adapt to playing in adverse circumstances.
“In the final, while Joe Heyes, who let’s remember was playing a year young, was under pressure in the scrum, the rest of his game was very good. He was very combative and stood up well.
“Jordan Olowofela was a stand-out payer of the tournament. Normally stand-out players in that tournament turn out to be very good Premiership Rugby players.
“Ben White in the semi-final was England’s best player. He was organising people and his defence in the last quarter against South Africa was excellent. Without him they might not have got into the final.
“Sam Lewis was unfortunate in his sending off, which meant he couldn’t play in the rest of the tournament. I think he would have played in the final if he hadn’t had that moment.
“Tom Hardwick, playing at 12, was vigorous and intelligent in defence, and with ball in hand he showed that he can distribute either way. There is work to be done in getting him used to the position but he could give an option in the backline.
“For someone who has recently moved into the front row, Sam Grahamslaw has showed that he has made a lot of progress. He does have more progress to make but he is definitely going in the right direction and showed up well against some of the best young scrummaging tightheads in the world.
“Tommy Reffell, for somebody who was a year young captaining his country, was inspirational. Despite having some set-backs, he never lost his sense of purpose and his sense of pride in captaining his country.”
Find out more about some of the Tigers youngsters at the Rugby World U20s in our Getting To Know series on LTTV by scrolling down.