Alan Solomons has little time for England fans who portray Worcester centre Ollie Lawrence as a one-dimensional crash ball runner only equipped to bust open opposition defences through use of brute force. 

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Lawrence is just 21 and favourite to replace the injured Manu Tuilagi in the England No12 jersey and win his first cap against Italy in Rome on Saturday – a match that could see Eddie Jones’ team crowned 2020 Six Nations champions.

Worcester director of rugby Solomons believes Lawrence’s combination of natural power and pace marks him out as an outstanding talent with a full range of rugby skills that will allow him to excel at Test rugby, not a one-trick pony who can only play one way.

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Ben Earl delivers an update from the England camp ahead of Saturday

Solomons told RugbyPass: “Ollie is physically blessed, his genetics are really good, he is a very explosive athlete with X-factor. Ollie also has good footwork and an off-loading game. He runs very good hard lines.

“If he gets picked at twelve he will handle that even though the majority of his games have been at 13 for us. He has played with experienced midfielders like Francois Venter (South Africa) and Ashley Beck (Wales) and they have both played international rugby.”

To further enhance his view, Solomons, who worked alongside Heyneke Meyer with the Springboks, recalled a European match between Worcester and Stade Francais from 2018. “Heyneke was in charge of Stade and saw Ollie deliver an outstanding performance against his team.

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“He told me afterwards: ‘This guy is incredible.’ If he does get his chance in Rome, Ollie will be outside Owen Farrell, who I rate as the best No10 in the world, and alongside Henry Slade, who is playing exceptional rugby.”

The former Bromsgrove School student graduated from the academy into the senior squad at Sixways, signing a contract extension in June 2020. Having represented England U18s, Lawrence was promoted to the England U20s aged just 18 and played one game in the 2018 age-grade Six Nations before receiving a call-up to train with Jones’ senior squad came that summer while he was still at school.

Lawrence’s father Michael played on the wing for Moseley and was the reason his son started playing tag rugby at the club, although his all-round sporting prowess saw him involved with the Aston Villa and Birmingham City academies as a 10-year-old. 

Rugby, though, became his passion with international centres Sonny Bill Williams, Tuilagi and Ma’a Nonu the players he admired. Solomons added: “Besides the power, Ollie also has pace and is very dynamic and I don’t think age is a factor because he has a number of games under his belt I have full confidence in him.”

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