Hawkins made his senior international debut for Wales last month in the 39-34 loss to Australia. Now the 20-year-old inside centre has been tipped to continue making strides with his region in a tough European pool.
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With just one win from nine in the United Rugby Championship, which has included two draws, the Opsreys are certainly in need of some inspiration. Booth believes former Wales U20 captain Hawkins can provide it against both the Tigers and French champions Montpellier.
“I’ve had a history of helping people become international rugby players, from young ages, whether it be forwards or backs. In my first season here, Joe is the first player I saw that I knew instantly would be an international rugby player,”! said Booth.
“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 U20 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 and are in fifth place at present after an inconsistent start to the campaign.
“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,” added Booth.
“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 Hawkins and believes that both players can revive a region that used to be regulars in the knockout stages in Europe.
“It’s a big step up from playing university and club rugby for us youngsters. 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,” said the former BUCS Super Rugby star from Swansea University.
“It is really exciting for the club. Joe has just made his debut for Wales and he’s had a massive impact for us as well.
“It was obviously a very proud moment for Joe when he made his Wales debut a couple of weekends ago. He has got an abundance of qualities and so many threats in his armoury.
“He’s already become a leader and he’s very composed on the ball. He’s one of many younger guys showing their quality in the starting 15 now and he’s definitely someone who can make a difference.
“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 because it’s a great place to be to learning 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, and Nagy knows his side must put the perfect performance together if they are to topple Europe’s best.
“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,” he added.