Young stars like Joel Kpoku put their hands up for selection in Saracens’ Premiership Rugby Cup win over Leicester but it was the senior figures that made the difference – according to academy manager Adam Powell.

Lock Kpoku, making his first senior start, scooped the man-of-the-match award for his try-scoring showing in their win over the Tigers.

There was youth sprinkled throughout Powell’s side but also experienced internationals like Schalk Burger, Marcelo Bosch and Calum Clark.

And those senior guys were vital during the week and on gameday – according to Powell.

“It is massively important. [Last] week, we were trying to hand over to the lads quite a lot and let them run it themselves and shape their week,” he said.

“Some of the younger guys like Max Malins, who is going to be a brilliant player; they have been running it.

“And to have Marcelo Bosch and Schalk Burger helping out putting them in the right direction, having a little word when things aren’t going great, it brings the young guys on a lot.

“We try and give a lot of ownership to them because this is their opportunity to grow.”

Malins pulled the strings at fly-half on Saturday and Powell is confident that there is more to come from the youngster.

“Max is an extremely promising player. He is a brilliant runner of the ball,” he added. 

“What we have to work on now is his all-round game. His ability to kick at the right time and general game management.

“His running game is superb and we are all very excited about where he can go in the game.”

And World Cup winner Burger admits the young stars on show have certainly given Mark McCall and the first-team set-up food for thought.

“It was a tricky old game, with a lot of changes from the previous weeks but the boys stuck at it well,” he added.

“This is what today is about, for the young guys to get exposure and put their hands up like Joel (Kpoku) did today.

“There are a lot of areas of improvement, error and penalty count in the second half.

“For me, it was pleasing. The thing you cannot buy is effort and the effort from everyone today as excellent.”