Worcester tyro Tom Wood has a 'huge future' according to back row colleague Kai Horstmann who last night hailed the emergence of the former Barkers Butts youngster.
Wood, one of several academy products blooded in the Guinness Premiership this season by director of rugby Mike Ruddock, was his side's standout performer in last Sunday's disappointing draw with Leeds Carnegie and, while Horstmann was made man of the match by the prawn sandwich brigade, it was Wood who did most to impress.
That was despite his leaving the pitch after an hour when his dynamic ball-carrying and sterling defensive work looked to be wearing down the visitors in what was only the eighth top-flight start of his career.
That display prompted Horstmann to praise the 21-year-old's development: "He had an outstanding game against Leeds, I'm hugely impressed by his development," Horstmann said.
"He works really hard, his work ethic is massive. He gets round the park, makes his tackles, breaks the line and has emerged as a good lineout forward. He works hard in the gym and on his physicality. He has come a long way.
"He has been brilliant for us this season and is growing more and more confident. He has a huge future so much so that it is easy to forget how young he is. It is hard to look at him and think he's only 21."
Meanwhile, Horstmann expects relegation rivals Leeds to put the pressure back on to his team tonight when the Headingley Carnegie outfit play their game in hand against struggling Newcastle.
The former Harlequin forward was part of the side that missed the chance to end their own drop fears by beating the bottom club at Sixways last weekend. While Worcester still have what should be a sufficient 14-point cushion, Horstmann knows Stuart Lancaster's men will not go without a fight.
Indeed the No 8 believes Leeds will eat into that gap and could win for just the second time this season when they run out in the Good Friday clash with a Falcons side that lost its director of rugby John Fletcher last week. He sees in Leeds the sort of togetherness that brought his own team back from the brink when they looked down and out last term.
"We are 14 points clear but mathematically they are still in with a big shout," Horstmann said. "We were dead and buried last season a lot of people had hung us out to dry and we managed to turn things around. So we're not taking anything for granted.
"They are a side capable of turning it around. They have a huge amount of team spirit and they work extremely hard like us last season. That counts for a lot. They can catch sides out of nothing, they are threatening when they are going forward with big runners and skilful runners out wide. "I would expect them to win again this season, there is no doubt they will pick up a victory at their place, I'm sure of it."
While Horstmann remains optimistic about Worcester's development victories against Leicester and Sale preceded last weekend's disappointment he admits the draw did neither side any favours. "We need to win maybe one or two more," he said. "We are trying to stop looking down the table and get into the mentality of 'Who can we catch now'.
"In the last few weeks we have proved we can take on any side. Our defence is good and in the right conditions we have a backline that can score tries on any side.
"The last game was a massive missed opportunity, the atmosphere in the changingroom afterwards was as tough we'd lost.
"We felt we created enough chances but couldn't finish things. Perhaps we should have gone with our backs more because when we did give them the ball they did get well.
"The main emphasis was trying to keep the ball and build pressure. We thought we'd get a penalty and knock it over or push over the line for one. It just didn't materialise."