Saturday 21 July 2018

Kingspan magic just the start for talented winger Jordan Larmour

Not every 20-year-old can silence a sold-out stadium, but Larmour is already proving himself to be a very special talent

Jordan Larmour escaping the attentions of Ulster’s Tommy Bowe last weekend. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Jordan Larmour escaping the attentions of Ulster’s Tommy Bowe last weekend. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Marcus Ó Buachalla

While the 2015/16 season may have been a breakthrough campaign for Luke McGrath, Tadhg Furlong and Garry Ringrose, last season in Leinster Rugby was definitely all about the kids.

The fact that eight senior contracts were awarded to academy players is maybe nothing new but what was new was the graduation of some straight to the senior ranks without earning their full three-year academy stripes.

Men like James Ryan and Andrew Porter were earning their stripes in other ways and most importantly in front of the watchful eye of Leo Cullen & Co on the training fields of UCD.

The old maxim that if he's good enough, he's old enough rang true as 11 debuts were made over the course of the season.

As is maybe to be expected after two hugely fruitful seasons for the Leinster cubs, this season has yet to see similar numbers break through but there has been one name to the fore.

The latest Leinster new kid on the block is Jordan Larmour and five caps into his fledging career the former St Andrew's man is taking it all in his stride.

Jordan Larmour aims to continue on an upward curve. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Jordan Larmour aims to continue on an upward curve. Photo: SPORTSFILE

"I got a feel for it in pre-season and was involved in those games which is always a good sign I suppose but then to make my debut in the RDS against the Dragons and to score a try as well, I couldn't have wished it to go better really and I just want to keep building and keep getting those chances and hopefully I'll be able to take them when they do come my way."

Larmour only turned 20 in June but he speaks with a calmness and a maturity that belies his tender years. Those pre-season games that he references gave us a glimpse of what might lie ahead for the youngster as he crossed for two tries in three games against experienced sides Perpignan, Gloucester and Bath but what we saw in the Kingspan Stadium last weekend was another level again.

In the 15th minute in front of 17,631 spectators at a sold-out stadium, Tadhg Furlong rumbled into the Ulster half with Devin Toner in support. As they set the ball up for Jamison Gibson-Park, Larmour and Adam Byrne lurked menacingly on the right flank. The ball went to Larmour. He looked up and saw Ulster and Ireland lock Iain Henderson in front of him. He takes it from there.

"It was just instinctive. I saw Henderson chasing hard and I thought I had a gap then inside him so I stepped off my right and I went for that gap first. I also had the security of knowing that Adam was with me so I knew that if I got caught or whatever I had that support but it just kind of opened up and I stepped again and just went for it."

Jordan Larmour has praised the role of Rory O’Loughlin in helping him to settle into last week’s game. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Jordan Larmour has praised the role of Rory O’Loughlin in helping him to settle into last week’s game. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Ross Molony spoke earlier this week about having your detail done and the importance of a good scouting report on the opposition players. Did this play a part?

"He's right. Knowing your detail and having your homework is massively important. I'd even go so far as to say it's one of the key differences between age grade and senior rugby. The emphasis on the extras and knowing your role inside out but I don't think it was specific to Henderson what I saw. I just knew he was rushing hard and thought there might be an opportunity.

"For me being number 23 last week meant I was covering three positions so that level of detail is even more important. At least coming in so early into the game meant I was able to settle into it. Rory (O'Loughlin) was brilliant. He just kept talking to me, kept linking me in.

"They say as a substitute that you have to be ready at minute one or 79 to make an impact and I suppose when I got the nod after three minutes for Noel Reid, I just had to trust that I knew my detail and could do a job for the team."

It sounds so simple when broken down like that. Know your detail, come in, do a job. But when he takes that ball in the 15th minute and stares down an Ireland starter, it's surely easier to take contact and go to ground?

Don't forget he also had Ulster scrum-half Aaron Cairns in hot pursuit - no slouch - and the majority of those 17,631 voices urging him to slip up. That's what sets this fella apart. The ability to get the fans on their feet.

"We spoke about it during the week actually and the energy that the Kingspan has. The lads that played there last year saw it when it was Ruan Pienaar's last game for Ulster and obviously last week was Rory Best's 200th cap.

"So we knew that we had to work very hard to get a good start and to try to give the crowd no more energy to get into the game. That emotional energy can have a huge impact on a team. It's why it's so important to play at home. The impact a crowd can have is huge and we were very much mindful of doing everything we could to negate that energy.

"I suppose scoring so early definitely helped and then Ross (Byrne) did the rest before the break with three great kicks into a strong breeze. We just had to keep up that tempo in the second half and thankfully we did that."

Over the next while Larmour discusses his sports psychology role in the IADT, which Josh van der Flier is also doing. He also discusses his love of swimming and of golf.

He then mentions his alma mater, St Andrew's in Booterstown in Dublin. Up until now former Munster and Ireland back Felix Jones was the only notable rugby-playing past pupil but in the space of 12 months they have doubled and now tripped that number with Porter and Larmour taking steps into the world of senior rugby.

He is quick to acknowledge their role and even quicker to give something back.

"I'm back there coaching with the senior team. It's funny because I actually know a lot of the lads. I was in sixth year playing with a lot of the lads as they were in fourth year so I am there now coaching them and helping out with the director of rugby Charlie Doel.

"They take great pride in the progress that Ports and I have made and are always there on social media giving us shoutouts, but we are equally proud to have come through the school.

"I was there 14 years so am hugely grateful to the staff and the teachers, the coaches. Really good people and I'm just eager to give back in whatever way that I can."

On the pitch. Off the pitch. There's something about this kid.

Irish Independent

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