Leicester Tigers club captain Tom Youngs has singled out two young props for praise.
Development tighthead Joe Heyes, 19, made his first Gallagher Premiership start on Friday night at Sale while Facundo Gigena, 24, crossed the whitewash for his side’s only try on his third league start in the number one shirt.
And Youngs, who completed the starting front row, spoke of his pride in the two players after the final whistle had blown.
“I’m immensely proud of them,” he said. “They’ve both got a really good future in the game.
“Joe Heyes is just 19, and he’s got a really bright future. He’s got a great mentor in the form of Dan Cole in front of him and Boris Stankovich who’s coaching him, and he played very well [against Sale].
“He’s come on leaps and bounds and he’s only going to get better.”
Meanwhile Gigena, who joined Tigers at the start of 2018, has enjoyed a purple patch at loosehead in recent games, starting three league games in a row in the absence of England international Ellis Genge.
“I think there’s a really good core of young players coming through.”Tom Youngs
Youngs explained that the front rower – capped by Argentina as a 21-year-old – is developing his game, as demonstrated by collecting the LeoVegas Fans’ Favourite award after the match.
“Facundo has been really good,” he added. “He’s started the last three games and played really well in all of them.
“He’s grown a lot since joining the club, because he was always good at set piece, but he’s grown his game around the park and he’s just getting better and better.”
The skipper also commended the other young players who have been forced to step up into the first team in recent weeks through international calls and well-documented injury blight.
The backs division at Sale had just 36 Premiership starts for Tigers between them, with Harry Simmons starting at scrum-half for his first club appearance in nine months, and 18-year-old academy back Freddie Steward making his debut off the bench in the final minutes.
Youngs continued: “I think there’s a really good core of young players coming through.
“If we can give them that opportunity now, then hopefully they will benefit from that in 12, 18 months’ time. That’s the journey we’re on at the moment and that’s where we’re going.
“If we can dip them in with experienced players around them, suddenly they’re a lot more relaxed, and they haven’t got to think about the broader picture. They’ve just got to focus on their little job.
“But they’ve had to stand up together and I have to take off my hat to them.”