Malone backs 'excellent' Ryan to continue his rapid rate of progression
When talking about players so young, a sense of perspective is often needed but when someone's performances are at such a hugely consistent level, it's difficult not to be excited about the potential that lies ahead.
James Ryan's talent was obvious from schools level but the way in which he has made the step up from Senior Cup rugby to the U-20s Six Nations has been impressive in the extreme.
The former St Michael's second-row has led by example in captaining Ireland and for forwards coach Peter Malone, Ryan has been a joy to work with.
"He's excellent; an excellent member of the team and an excellent captain. Like all these guys he's developing and has loads of work-ons," Malone said with a hint of caution as with any young player.
"He's certainly leading the line with his performances and his work rate around the park is excellent. His ball-carrying is good, his defence is good so he's leading all those things.
"As he's learning through this, managing and running the lineout will be that big growth for James because if you look at (Devin) Toner and all these guys that he's trying to come up against, the detail and the work that they put in to manage a lineout is massive.
"Hopefully we've seen that lineout improve and I think as a pack we've got better through the Six Nations and I think he's learning all the way and that's why this competition is so good.
"You're in a professional environment for six weeks and you're challenged to come up with new lineout variations and step it up and change it up every week."
Ryan has already lined out for Leinster 'A' this season and judging by his rapid rate of progression, he is expected to star at June's U-20 World Cup.
Malone fully expects Ryan to go on to bigger and better things in the near future but he insists that it is up to Leinster to decide when he makes the next step up.
"That's probably out of our hands and it's probably up to Leinster to make a decision on whether they're going to fast-track him," Malone maintained.
"But he's certainly very comfortable at this level and his performances have been at a high level.
"It's up to the guys in Leinster and the Academy to say, 'Listen, we can maybe challenge him a bit earlier'.
"Maybe that's the way it'll go over the next three to six months. We're working with this group for a certain period of time, we're trying to pump as much information as possible and get a performance every week. Then we hand them back to the provinces."