Tuesday 16 July 2019

Cian Tracey: 'Beirne happy to be outshone by 'freakish' Larmour talent'

Tadhg Beirne of Ireland goes over to score his side’s third try in their victory against Italy. Photo: Sportsfile
Tadhg Beirne of Ireland goes over to score his side’s third try in their victory against Italy. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

There was a certain irony to how Jordan Larmour tore up Soldier Field in a manner befitting of the Chicago Bears' electric running backs.

At a time when Wasps winger Christian Wade has packed in rugby in a bid to pursue a career in the NFL, the powers that be at the Bears must have enjoyed what they saw from Larmour in their own back yard.

Ordinarily, if a player scores two tries on his first international start, he would be the undoubted star of the show but when you have extraordinary players in your team, anything is possible.

And so it proved in the Windy City on Saturday as Larmour outscored Tadhg Beirne by three tries to two on the pair's maiden starts.

Not that Beirne minded a jot however, and the players joked about the Bears looking to snap up Larmour after Ireland's 54-7 win over Italy.


"We were saying that if the Chicago Bears lad is looking at him, he might be poaching him," Beirne laughed.

"But Jordan Larmour is a bit of a freak when it comes to his speed and his agility, and everything he brings and that last try just showed it.

"He just picks them off like it's nothing and he's a credit to himself.

"For Jordan, going back to full-back, it was probably a bit better for him. I don't know, but is gives him that little bit of extra space to run at guys and pick them off because that's what he's good at isn't it? And that's what he showed.

"He's shown that in the past, how good his feet are, so look, I'm sure he'll take whatever position is given but he showed how good he is as a full-back.

"He's just a natural talent, isn't he? He's a gifted player, that's what you'd call him, and he's still not the finished article because he's 21 and he'll keep learning.

"So imagine how good he'll be by the time he's 27, 28."

While Larmour is expected to start at full-back against Argentina on Saturday, Beirne has much more of a challenge on his hands to force his way into the reckoning.

Having sat out the Italy game, one suspects that Iain Henderson and James Ryan are in pole position to start together in the engine room.

Devin Toner is very much trusted by Joe Schmidt but Beirne's form is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore and if he was to be named on the bench, he is a genuine game-changer.

"I'm hoping to be involved next week and if I'm lucky enough to be starting or on the bench, hopefully I'll be ready for it," the 26-year-old Kildare native maintained.

"Obviously 'Hendo' is back over there in Ireland. Hopefully, I'll be selected but whether I am or I amn't, it will be a normal training week either way."

Beirne's family were in Chicago to see him score two tries and put in an all-round excellent shift that will have given Schmidt plenty of food for thought.

"l was a little bit nervous going out there for my first start," the Munster lock admitted.

"But we started well and to get over for the first try was nice on my behalf.

"Jacob (Stockdale) set the tone by making that line-break and we fed off that. Unfortunately for the rest of the half we didn't really kick on as we would have liked to, we weren't as accurate as we wanted and the pace of the game wasn't where we wanted.

"I don't know how I managed to get over, to be honest. I think Rhys (Ruddock) helped me, he said he gave me a nice little push. I had to stretch to get it over the line but we got over and it counted. It was a great feeling."

The lineout and scrum functioned well with the new-look partnership of Beirne and Quinn Roux one of the major pluses from Schmidt's point of view.


Beirne has been rewarded for leaving the Scarlets for Munster last summer and having gotten that first start, he is beginning to repay the faith that Schmidt showed in wanting him to return home.

Looking ahead, Beirne's dynamism could be crucial over the next three weeks as he eyes a crack at New Zealand for the first time.

"They are number one in the world, you grow up watching those Ireland and All Black games, especially the one in Chicago two years ago," he added.

"It would be pretty cool to play them."

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