Craig hails ‘unbelievable’ Saints team-mate Haywood

Mike Haywood (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Mike Haywood (picture: Sharon Lucey)
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James Craig says Saints team-mate Mike Haywood is an ‘unbelievable’ talent.

Haywood picked up the club’s young player of the season prize on Monday night, having impressed in his 28 appearances during the current campaign.

The 23-year-old has now played more than 100 times for Saints and is competing with skipper Dylan Hartley for a starting place.

Haywood was one of the best players on the pitch at Welford Road last Saturday, helping Jim Mallinder’s men into a 9-8 lead at half-time before they eventually lost 22-14.

And Craig, who also started that game, said: “Mike’s putting a lot of pressure on Dylan. Whenever Dylan’s away he steps up every week and he’s outstanding.

“He put a great shot in (Julian) Salvi last Saturday and around the park he’s unbelievable.

“He’s an unbelievable player and he’s going to get better and better.”

Haywood’s huge hit on Salvi, which was reminiscent of a Samu Manoa special, helped Saints turned the tide against Tigers.

And Craig enjoyed the booming tackle, which helped secure a penalty for Saints.

“It gave us a bit of a lift because we were under the cosh a bit and it was maybe a turning point in the first half to get us back into it,” said the lofty lock.

“Eventually we lost the lead but Mike was playing unbelievably well.

“Hopefully he’ll get a good run-out, if not starting, off the bench in the (Aviva Premiership play-off) semi-final against Saracens on Saturday.”