WORCESTER Warriors centre Ollie Lawrence will be “fitter, faster and stronger” when he returns from his long injury lay-off.

That’s the view of Warriors legend and Bromsgrove School director of rugby Tony Windo who has backed his former pupil to star in the Gallagher Premiership next season.

Lawrence’s 2018-19 campaign came to an end in mid-March when he suffered a major ankle injury in England’s U20 Six Nations clash with Scotland.

It was a big setback for Lawrence who had started to establish himself in Alan Solomons’ plans after making his top-flight debut at Exeter Chiefs in September.

But Windo who coached Lawrence for two years at Bromsgrove School reckons the 19-year-old will return a better player.

“He will probably come back fitter, faster and stronger than when he got injured,” Windo said.

“As awful as it sounds injuries are inevitable in the game so it is about how you recover from them and how you use your time out to ensure you come back a better player.

“Some people make the most of it. I am sure Ollie is going to be one of those.”

England’s midfield powerhouse Ben Te’o played his final game for Warriors in the season-ending win over Saracens earlier this month.

But Windo believes Lawrence will be able to fill the void having proven himself in his 17 first-team outings.

“In the games I have seen him play he has shown up very well,” Windo said.

“As he is still a young lad there will be questions over whether he will be able to make the grade and cope with the pressure.

“But he has shown that he can.

“I think he has built the coaches trust up so it is now about giving him the opportunities.”

Windo began working with Birmingham-born Lawrence when he joined the school at the age of 16 and admitted it did not take long to notice his “raw talent”.

“He has always been a very talented boy and had the natural ability,” Windo said.

“But credit to him as he worked hard to develop it further.

“During his time at school we probably fine-tuned bits of his game and helped him understand that playing rugby isn’t just about the 80 minutes on the field.

“You have got to keep working hard to get better because if you don’t there are a lot of people who want to be in that position and will probably work harder if you are not prepared to.”

Warriors’ coaches have marvelled at Lawrence’s physical prowess but Windo hopes the club’s rising star retains his “evasive” game style.

“Ollie is an exciting player to watch,” said Windo who racked up more than 200 appearances for Worcester between 1999 and 2008.

“There is a lot of focus on physicality in the game at the minute.

“But I think Ollie has got a bit more about him.

“He likes to move the ball through his hands and flick it out of the back of his arm one way or the other.

“As much as he pulled my hair out when he was at school doing it I think it’s a part of his game that he should continue to grow. That’s the way the game should be played for me. When I started playing it used to be an evasion sport.

“I think the game has turned into a collision sport.

“The more we can move it back to an evasion sport the more it is going to be enjoyable for the boys to play and for people to watch.”