NOBODY likes to see a fellow professional badly hurt, but Rob Buchanan admits Chris Brooker's knee injury could be his big chance to stake a claim in the first team squad.
Brooker will go under the knife and will miss at least the rest of this season after suffering the horrific injury at Newcastle in Harlequins' last outing.
Unless boss Conor O'shea opts to bring in cover, that leaves just Joe Gray and Buchanan as the only hookers in the Quins squad (prop Aston Croall can also play there).
Buchanan, 20, who has played for England at all levels from U16 to U20, has featured for the Quins first team in a sprinkling of LV= Cup games, but is likely to be on the bench for tomorrow's game at Bath, when Quins return to Premiership action.
Buchanan said: “I get on well with Chris and texted him a good luck message before he went in for his operation. It was a horrible injury he suffered, and nobody likes to see that.
“At the same time, it opens a door for me. I feel really sorry for Chris as he had been in top form, but I have to look at it in a professional manner and see it as an opportunity for me.
“I made my debut against Leicester when I was 18, and played against Leicester and Cardiff this season, so I have had a taste of first team action and want more.”
Buchanan would certainly be in good company. The list of former academy players who have established themselves as Quins first-teamers in recent years include the likes of Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown, Jordan Turner-Hall, Tom Williams, Joe Marler, George Robson, Luke Wallace, Ton Guest, George Lowe, Sam Smith and Seb Stegmann.
He added: “Players coming through the academy is a massive thing for Quins, and seeing the success of those who have broken through is a real inspiration for those of us who are now trying to do the same thing. It's probably the best club in the country to be at for young players trying to come through.”
If Buchanan does get a chance to butcher the opposition against Bath, he will have been in good practice – he was one of nine Quins players to take part in a lamb butchery master class last Thursday, courtesy of Sainsbury's and the Rugby Players' Association.
It was one of a few unusual past-times Quins players have been indulging in during their three-week break from playing, including a training session with the GB Handball team.
Buchanan added: “It has been really good to get away from the rugby for a little while and try something different. The butcher master class gave us a new skill away from the pitch, while the handball session helped us practice handling skills which aren't a million miles away from rugby.”