Edinburgh Rugby captain Greig Laidlaw has warned Harry Leonard’s fledgling talents must be carefully cultivated if the RaboDirect PRO12 club are to get the best out of him.
Stand-off Leonard, who also plies his trade at centre, showed slick handling to help set-up the second of Tim Visser’s hat-trick of tries during their 50-10 home hammering of Aironi on Friday.
The under-20 international, who represented Scotland in the 2011 U20 Six Nations, made his fifth start in six outings at Murrayfield coinciding with Edinburgh's recent upturn in fortunes, but Laidlaw insists the 19-year-old must be handled properly.
“Both Harry and Gregor Hunter, who has also played stand-off for Edinburgh this season, are good talents and if they can get coached now and really nurtured they will be great assets for Scottish Rugby,” twice-capped scrum-half Laidlaw said.
“Obviously I have played more with Harry and from the first game he was outstanding – a real old head on young shoulders.
"He’s struggled a couple of times but that’s what happens, and if players like him can get coached now playing pro rugby it will make a huge difference for Scotland.”
Leonard joined Edinburgh as an elite development player this summer and has represented both Scotland and London South East at under-18 level.
Supporters of the Scottish club have noted the ease with which the former Brighton College first XV captain has settled into the currently ninth-placed side, and Laidlaw is pleased with the number of first-team opportunities he has been afforded so far this season.
“In Australia, and also Wales for that matter, they don’t worry about a player’s youthfulness. Rather, they think ‘here’s a guy playing well so let’s put him in now’. For me that’s a great way to go,” said Laidlaw.
“Of course, you can’t just chuck them in because they’ve had two good games. But Harry was man of the match against Treviso and I’ve been impressed with his ability to run the game, especially with his kicking, which keeps the forwards on the front foot.
“He is quite laid back and when he’s on his game he always seems in control.”