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‘Murrayfield is no Meggetland but the team helped me to relax’

Harry Leonard counts Jonah Lomu as one of his heroes and says he would play prop if asked.

At around 13st, the 19-year-old has a lot of growing to do to emulate the former or make the latter remotely likely, but you can hardly fault his enthusiasm. Which might be just the quality Edinburgh need right now.

Leonard made his debut for the club against Leinster last week. It was a far from flawless performance, but the former Boroughmuir player showed an admirable self-belief as he ran the Edinburgh show from fly-half.

He also combined superbly with centre Matt Scott towards the end of the match, a delicate grubber kick allowing Scott to race in for a try.

Scotland has traditionally been pretty hopeless at turning promising young players into decent performers on the adult stage, but Leonard is in the vanguard of a crop who are proving that being good enough really does mean you are old enough.

Scott, a relative veteran at 21, is another in that category, as are Glasgow’s 19-year-old full-back Stuart Hogg and 20-year-old playmaker Duncan Weir.

The propping question arose because Leonard has not yet settled on his favourite position. At Boroughmuir last season, he was primarily used as a centre, but he was happy to be given the No.10 shirt for the Leinster game. Which is telling in itself, as the Scottish fly-half famine of recent years seems to be turning into something of a fly-half feast.

“There are some really good young 10s around at the moment,” said Leonard, who is clearly happy to have the competition to push him along. “Ruaridh Jackson is young and you’ve got Duncan and Gregor [Hunter, also of Edinburgh] as well. I just keep striving towards the guys who are closest to me and I’ll push on from there.

“I never used to have a preference over positions, but I have been angling towards 10 recently. I played 12 a lot of last season, but I don’t really mind. I play where the coaches tell me.”

Chris Paterson might still wonder how his career would have unfolded if he had been less obliging of coaches. Had Paterson played hardball over his desire to play fly-half he might have made the position his own over the past decade. Yet Paterson put that to one side last weekend as he nursed the newcomer through his senior professional debut.

“I wouldn’t say I was completely relaxed as if I was playing for Boroughmuir at Meggetland,” said Leonard. “Murrayfield is no Meggetland but the team helped me relax and people like Mossy [Paterson] really helped me out.”

Edinburgh have options in the playmaker berth. Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw has not ruled out playing there again, although he admits that role is now on the back burner, while Hunter and Phil Godman are also in the frame.

However, the indications are that Leonard, a Macphail scholar in New Zealand last summer, will be handed the conductor’s baton again when his side takes on Treviso in Italy on Saturday.

“I want to look at playing for the Scotland under-20s and get a good season under my belt,” said Leonard. “I’ll hopefully get a few more Edinburgh games under my belt, push on and get more regular starts.”

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