Courtney Lawes says Will Hooley has got ‘all the potential in the world’ and feels Saturday’s difficult east midlands derby experience will make the young fly-half stronger.
Hooley put in a strong display in open play against Leicester, but much of the attention focused on his three failed penalty attempts as Saints fell to a 22-16 defeat at Franklin’s Gardens.
The 20-year-old was eventually withdrawn, with Kiwi utility back James Wilson coming on to take over kicking duties.
But Lawes doesn’t believe Hooley will be fazed, instead suggesting it will steel his fellow Northampton Academy graduate for future challenges.
“He’s young and like any young player he’s got a lot to learn about how to handle certain pressures, but he’s a great player and he’s got all the potential in the world,” Lawes said.
“Saturday’s game is only going to make him so much better.”
Lawes was one of six Six Nations stars playing only their second game in Northampton colours since the conclusion of the international tournament.
And he feels there is still work to be done to get the team firing on all cylinders following the return of some of the club’s key men.
“We’re getting there,” said the imposing lock. “We weren’t firing as we have done before and there were a lot of players back in from the SIx Nations.
“It’s about getting that sychronicity and it is tough. It takes a while, but we just need to stay confident in ourselves.
“When we’re really firing, there’s not a lot of teams that can live with us so we take confidence, go on, regroup and make this a positive experience.”