Friday 24 January 2020

'As a guy on turnover ball to attack a broken defence there is none better' - Lancaster hails Larmour progress

UNSTOPPABLE: Jordan Larmour of Leinster in action against Northampton at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
UNSTOPPABLE: Jordan Larmour of Leinster in action against Northampton at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Des Berry

You can picture studious Stuart Lancaster staying up late at night, hitting the rewind button, replaying the minutae of how Leinster lost to Saracens over and over again.

The Cumbrian career coach wouldn't be as good at what he does if it didn't force him to analyse, question, revise and rethink.

You couldn't blame the man for making this season all about devising a method of play to do what Leinster couldn't quite do in the Champions Cup at St James Park.

"You can't spend all of the next season planning to play Saracens again when you don't know how it is going to play out," he said.

"I'm interested to see how the better teams are doing in Europe because you can always learn by watching them, number one."

That includes Leinster's inter-provincial guests, Ulster, back in the PRO14 League at the RDS on Friday night.

"Saracens could come eighth and we could come first; we could come second, they could come seventh.

"Who knows? We could play them again," he said. "That said, as we found with Tououse last year, we could end up playing Northampton again.

"You just keep an eye on everyone. You're looking at the trends. You're looking at why teams are successful. Exeter are a good example.

"That is the beauty of rugby, I think. There are so many ways to win the game that you can always learn."

Perhaps, the key back to the Kingdom will be in unleashing a counter-attacking strategy that can unlock even the meanest defences.

For this, Leinster need a natural, game-breaker and, sure enough they have such a man in Jordan Larmour.

"As a guy on turnover ball, to attack a broken defence, there is none better," Lancaster said. He explained the virtue of turning defence into attack as part of his assessment of the rapid 22-year-old.

"You defend, you defend, you turn the ball over, their attack is exhausted from attacking," he stated.

Progress

Larmour continues to make significant progress in nailing down the defensive details of the full-back position, with Rob Kearney a willing mentor.

Lancaster is adamant that what Larmour does with the ball is being balanced by what he does without it.

"The most pleasing thing in his growth is not just been his counter-attacking, it is his ability to positionally be more effective as a defender, understanding the role of a fifteen within our defensive system.

"In an ideal world, any quality fifteen should be covering the backfield so when a kick is made, he catches it without it even bouncing from his anticipation.

"He is learning those things. There's still one or two things he wants to work on from the weekend, which I pointed out to him."

The relentless nature of Larmour's 'have a go' attitude is aided and abetted by his particular physical make-up.

"He's got not just speed and good ability to step, he's got speed endurance as well," he said.

"I have coached full-backs and back three players in the past who can do what Jordan can do.

"But then they are exhausted because they are these fast-twitch fibre athletes, whereas Jordan can do that and he can do it again and again.

"That speed endurance in a back-three player, I think, is critical and he's got that."

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