FORMER Scotland Under-20 hooker Patrick Harrison has signed his first professional contract with Edinburgh –

a four-year deal that is one of the longest ever offered by the capital club.

The third-year academy student has still only made a handful of appearances for Edinburgh, but has acquired the happy habit of making a big impact in games whether starting or coming on as a replacement. He came off the bench in last weekend’s home game against Zebre and scored the winning try just before full-time, and has also touched down this season against Cardiff and Glasgow.

“I’m really excited to stay at the club I’ve wanted to play for since I was a boy,” Harrison, 20, said yesterday. “I feel like I’ve worked really hard over the last two and a half years to get to this point, so it really means a lot.

“It’s always been my goal to earn

a professional contract with Edinburgh Rugby and the support

of the coaching staff has been massive in helping me reach this point. They’ve backed me and trusted me in big matches, which

has really helped my development

as a pro player.

“Now it’s time to get my head down and continue to work. I don’t want to take any backward steps.

I can’t wait to continue to represent a club and city that means so much to me.”

Born and raised in West Linton, Harrison began his playing career at Peebles. Initially a back, he then converted to the back row and subsequently switched to his present position not long before he joined Edinburgh.

“I grew up in West Linton and still stay there on a farm,” he explained. “I went to school in Peebles and played my rugby for Peebles before

I came here. My older brothers still play there, so it’s an important place to me.

“I played centre until I was 17. Then I played for Peebles in the back row and then came here as a hooker. When I played centre I played like a forward, which is probably why I moved. Since I made the move I’ve not really looked back.”

Having said that, Harrison explained that he had not quite abandoned every aspect of his original position, believing that some elements of back play can help a front-row forward. “I still say that I try to make my footwork and stuff my point of difference. It takes time to develop [as a hooker], but being a back by background makes handling easier, I guess.”

In his two and a bit years with Edinburgh, Harrison has been able to learn from some of the best, most experienced hookers in the business. Stuart McInally, Dave Cherry and Adam McBurney have all offered useful advice over the past couple of seasons, while in recent months Tom Cruse - brought in as an experienced short-term signing after those three were all out injured at the same time - has also been helpful.

“It’s good to learn from them,” Harrison added. “Stuart is a dynamic hooker as well and I have taken tips from him. He has been really good. Chez [Cherry] and Ads [McBurney] and Tom now as well - it has been really good. When I get a chance they have all been really helpful before the games, which

is nice.”

Although he made his Edinburgh debut as far back as March 2020, Harrison has risen to prominence this season when those more experienced team-mates were out injured. With Cherry fit again and McBurney also due back soon, he may not get so many first-team opportunities over the second half of the season, but even if that is the case, he has clearly done more than enough already to convince head coach Mike Blair that he is worth a long-term investment.

“Paddy is a great guy to have around the club and I’ve been hugely impressed with his performances at senior level so far,” Blair said. “Paddy backs himself and his own abilities, and I think that really shows in the way he carries himself both on the pitch and in training week to week. He’s always looking to drive his game forward and look for improvements and feedback – he’s very self-driven to succeed.”