No Ordinary Joe . . . Hawkins Tipped To Be Major International Star By Ospreys Chief Toby Booth

Ospreys and Wales centre Joe Hawkins. Pic: Getty Images.

No Ordinary Joe . . . Hawkins Tipped To Be Major International Star By Ospreys Chief Toby Booth

By Harry Corish

Joe Hawkins has been tipped by his coach Toby Booth and teammate Max Nagy to help turn around the Ospreys’ fortunes when they welcome the English Champions, Leicester Tigers, to the Stadium on Sunday.

Hawkins made his senior international debut for Wales last month in the agonising 39-34 loss to Australia.

Now, the 20-year-old inside centre has been tipped to revive the Ospreys in a tough Heineken Champions Cup opener, which is live on S4C.

With just one win from nine in the United Rugby Championship, which has included two draws, the Opsreys are in need of some inspiration.

Booth certainly believes Hawkins can provide it when the Tigers come to town in a fixture grouping that also includes French champions Montpellier.

“I’ve had a history of helping people become international rugby players, from young ages, whether it be forwards or backs,” says Booth.

“In my first season here, Joe is the first player I saw that I knew instantly would be an international rugby player.

Ospreys head coach Toby Booth. Pic: Getty Images.

“It was obvious from the way he thinks about the game, the way he prepares himself. His mentality is very much an international player’s mindset and he has proven that he has the talent to go with it.

“He is nowhere near the finished article and he will be the first to say that. But you can see his credentials, Wales under 20s captain, he talks very well, and understands the big picture.

“He is constantly looking to improve, he is a very driven young man and it will be how we manage him, by giving him enough challenges, but also enough support and enough recovery, because he is a special talent.”

The Ospreys currently stand 14th in the 16-team URC table, with just the Scarlets and Zebre beneath them.

In contrast, Leicester are the current Gallagher Premiership champions but are in fifth place at present after an inconsistent start to the campaign.

Booth adds: “We have to start turning tight losses into wins. We are here to win rugby matches, we need to improve in the areas that we have identified and move forward.

“We have a few big tests coming our way, in the shape of the English and French champions. We have to take our learnings from dealing with teams who are physically bigger than us into this competition. We need to asset ourselves early on.”

Ospreys full-back Nagy has risen up the ranks alongside the likes of Hawkins and believes that both players can revive a region that used to be regulars in the knockout stages in Europe.

Stephen Myler (left) and Max Nagy have been re-united at the Ospreys.

“It’s a big step up from playing university and club rugby for us youngsters,” says Englishman Nagy.

“I think we have got a really good blend in the squad, there’s a lot of experience, but the younger guys are really starting to force their way through. It is really exciting for the club.

“Joe Hawkins has just made his debut for Wales; he’s had a massive impact for us as well.

“It was obviously a very proud moment for Joey a couple of weekends ago, when he made his debut. We are all delighted for him. He has got an abundance of quality, and so many threats in his armoury, so it’s not a surprise to see him doing so well.

“He’s already become a leader, he’s very composed on the ball. He’s one of many younger guys showing their quality in the starting 15 now. He’s definitely someone who can make a difference, and we need a few players to be putting their hands up now, which I think we have got.


“To have guys like Dan Evans and Stephen Myler helping us out has been fantastic. Joe has a lot of talent and I can only see him kicking on from here. It’s a great place to be to learn your trade.”

While there have been several positives coming from Ospreys’ recent tour to South Africa, the Welsh region returned home winless. Added to that, the Ospreys have not beaten Leicester Tigers in Swansea since January 2010, when they won 17-12.

Nagy knows his side must put the perfect performance together if they are to topple Europe’s best and adds: “We are up against the English and French Champions, they are two huge games for us and we know it will be very tough.

“But the opportunity to play against the best in the world and being able to challenge ourselves and as a team is really exciting.”


S4C – Sunday, 5.15pm: Ospreys v Leicester Tigers

Live coverage of the match between Ospreys and Leicester Tigers in the Heineken European Champions Cup, from the Stadium.



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