GARETH Simpson’s goal-kicking ability makes him a “big asset” to Worcester Warriors according to director of rugby Alan Solomons.

The versatile player made his first-team debut on Saturday when he replaced Michael Heaney at scrum-half in Warriors’ 57-23 thrashing of Leicester Tigers.

He also starred in this month’s Premiership Sevens, scoring a fine try in Worcester’s quarter-final defeat to Exeter Chiefs.

Hailing from Durban, Simpson made the move from South Africa last year and secured a senior academy contract at Warriors after a successful trial.

Last season saw the 21-year-old feature at fly-half for Worcester Cavaliers in the Premiership Shield.

But Solomons said he saw Simpson primarily as a scrum-half and highlighted his ability to take on the kicking duties.

“Gareth is a highly intelligent player,” Solomons said.

“He is a guy that can play at 10, is a goal-kicker, understands the game and is a good game-manager.

“He played for the Cavaliers at 10 as you will recall but I want him playing at scrum-half.

“It’s always good for him (to be able to play in different positions) but what is really positive for him is that he can goal-kick.

“That’s a big asset.

“He really works hard at his game. He is a good little pro.”

Simpson played Currie Cup rugby for Kwa-Zulu Natal in his native South Africa and had a stint representing Wellington RFC in New Zealand.

The 5ft 8in half-back has spoken about how he was previously told he was “too small” for the physical nature of rugby.

But Solomons said he and head of performance Johan Pretorius had been impressed by how hard Simpson had worked to beef up ahead of the 2019-20 season.

“He is still a young lad, but he is getting stronger,” Solomons added.

“Johan and I were chatting at practice saying that Gareth had definitely physically bulked up.

“He feels more confident in his body.

“I think the conditioning programme has been good.

“He is a good footballer.”