Harlequins’ 18-year-old fly-half Marcus Smith is a player who “has it all”, according to club captain Danny Care.
Smith is in line to start against London Irish in the season opener on Saturday having only left college in the summer.
He was drafted into an England training camp earlier this month and is being tipped for a full cap this season.
“The kid is special,” Care said. “He’s incredibly talented and he’s going to be a very, very good player.”
The England scrum-half added on 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast: “He just takes charge of a game effortlessly. So hopefully we can look after him a little bit.”
Smith only left Brighton College in the summer but has impressed in pre-season, and Care says the teenager will mentally be able to cope with stepping up a level.
“The great thing about Marcus is it won’t go to his head,” added Care.
“He knows that he’s got an awful lot of work to do, but he has a pretty amazing mentor in [former All Blacks and Quins fly-half] Nick Evans, who has just stepped into coaching.
“Everyone is excited about what he can do, but I think it’s key people don’t push him too hard.
“If I can help in any way, on or off the field, then I will try my best.”
Former Quins winger Ugo Monye even expects Smith to be capped by England in the next year, and says it’s not inconceivable that could happen as soon as the autumn internationals.
“He’s a star player. He seems mentally to be the right kind of character, but skills-wise he has a great variety of passing, decent kicking, with good footwork and pace,” Monye added.
“I think he will get capped in the next 12 months.”