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One to watch: Leonard Krumov

Enrico Borra

Enrico Borra

4 Nov 2017

Leonard Krumov is a powerhouse 21-year-old working his way through the professional rugby ranks. Born in Sesto San Giovanni, in the Milan suburbs, the lock with Bulgarian heritage was one of the recent additions to the newly reformed, now FIR-owned, Zebre setup.

Having cut his teeth in the Rugby Viadana academy, where he moved at the age of 15, he was one of the young guns taken from the Eccellenza by the Italian Rugby Federation this summer after shining last season.

Like his team-mates Matteo Minozzi, Giovanni Licata, Renato Giammarioli and Luhandre Luus (to name just a few), Krumov is the perfect example of Italian rugby’s new policy: making the most out of the country’s talented age-grade players by giving them a go at a higher level as soon as possible.

He represented Italy in all age-group teams, earning caps both at the Six Nations Under 20 and at the Junior World Championship in 2016, and he was more recently involved with the Italia Emergenti at Nations Cup in June.

After impressing for the Parma-based franchise during the summer camp, he was involved with his new team right from the very start of the new season, figuring on the bench in Swansea against the Ospreys and celebrating his professional debut the same day, coming on ten minutes from the final whistle.

Since then he has become a regular on Michael Bradley’s teamsheet, earning increased playing time and already having made seven appearances this term (five in Guinness PRO14 and two in European Rugby Challenge Cup).

Standing under 2m tall, Krumov doesn’t necessarily possess the height required of a modern lock but his bulky frame is a rare commodity in Italian rugby. Weighing in at 120kg, he is the heaviest second-rower in the country (only Benetton Rugby’s South African engine-roomer Irne Herbst can equal his weight), making him the perfect fit for the No.4 jersey.

A good short-range ball carrier, strong in the breakdown area, Krumov is now learning how to turn his qualities into a profitable work-rate for an entire 80 minutes.

Krumov’s solidity earned him a first Guinness PRO14 start in the narrow defeat to Cheetahs last week and he will be back in the starting XV today in Cardiff. His growth during the first two months of the season has been  impressive and a lot is expected from the big lock in the weeks to come.