Oliver Tomaszczyk (00-05)
The performance of emerging prop Oliver Tomaszczyk in defeat to European giants Stade Francais has won praise from Head Coach Richard Hill who described it as 'a big step forward'.
Powerhouse tighthead Tomaszczyk - known as the Hawk to many fans at Sixways - lined up against Argentine legend Rodrigo Roncero in the front row in the Amlin Challenge Cup clash. However, former Oxford University student Tomaszczyk emerged with huge credit from the encounter and Hill claimed the young front row can take real positives from the game.
Tomaszczyk has spent much of the season battling with Tongan Tevita Taumoepeau for the number three jersey at Sixways and working with Forwards Coach Phil Davies to improve his game. Hill believes that hard work is beginning to bear fruit and believes his development will only continue with more exposure to elite rugby and game time.
"The plus points from Stade were the scrum and Oliver Tomaszczyk up against Rodrigo Roncero, I thought he was outstanding," said Hill. "He probably had the better of him, which was probably why Roncero got upset with a few people and got yellow carded. Oliver took a big step forward with his scrummaging. We rely on Tevita week in and week out and we have managed to get 80 minutes out of him and lock the scrum out. Oliver is his understudy at the moment and the only way he is going to improve, and he has in many ways, in the scrum is by coming up against the very best. We want to give him a decent run of games to see if he can really come through and hold his own at Premiership level in the scrum."
Hill also praised the way Tomaszczyk has adapted to life at Sixways and insists the prop is now a very different rugby player to the one that first walked through the door at Warriors. "The first thing Oliver had to do when he arrived was to become a professional," he said. "He came here from being a student at Oxford University and had not been used to getting up early, he has had to cope with structure and discipline. It has been a massive, massive change from being a very bright student to a professional rugby player. It's been a lifestyle change, but he has trimmed right down and is a different body shape to what he was when he arrived. Physically he is in much better shape and much more mobile. He has settled in well and is a very well-liked member of the squad. He is not your usual character but the lads love him.
"Oliver is learning and Phil Davies has been really good with him," he added. "The key area, as it always with a tighthead, is to lock the right hand side of the scrum out. It doesn't matter what shape you are, whether you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his early days, you have got to lock it out. That doesn't come in a season or two. He has had one season in the RFU Championship and this is his first season in the Aviva Premiership, it is going to take time. We need to give him as much experience at tighthead as we can. That is the final piece of the jigsaw and if we can get him to learn how to scrum at the top level, and he will do that because he is very bright, then he is going to be a handful.
"He is aggressive and hit rucks, can carry ball and is a strong man. He has all the attributes and it is just getting that final piece of the jigsaw."