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This Group Has A Lot More In Us – Larmour

This Group Has A Lot More In Us – Larmour

Jordan Larmour’s dream first year in professional rugby reached new heights on Saturday when the 20-year-old was crowned a Six Nations Grand Slam champion. The ‘baby’ of the Ireland squad, it has been a stunning introduction for Larmour who began the season with his main goal to be a regular on the Leinster ‘A’ team.

The blue jersey Jordan Larmour has starred in during the 2017/18 campaign has been the Leinster senior one, his stepping ability, searing pace and eye for the try-line marking him out as one of the most talked-about young players in Irish Rugby. His tries away to Ulster and Munster are already destined for the career highlights reel.

Larmour’s eye-catching form with Leinster, particularly from the festive derbies on into his first two Champions Cup starts against Montpellier and Glasgow Warriors, led to Joe Schmidt including the uncapped Dubliner in his Six Nations squad for the opening rounds, with Larmour having been exposed to the workings of the national camp last year when with the Ireland Under-20s.

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His senior debut quickly followed in the second round win over Italy and he added two more caps off the bench against Scotland and England in the last ten days, continuing his meteoric rise at the highest level of the game. And the first-year Leinster Academy player has looked far from out of place.

Schmidt had the confidence to give Larmour the number 23 jersey for Ireland’s final two games of their title-winning campaign, and having been introduced for the injured Bundee Aki in the 56th minute against England, he made his presence felt at outside centre with seven tackles, three carries and 30 metres made.

The Ireland head coach said afterwards: “Jordan Larmour hadn’t trained at 13 at all but we were going to put Joe Carbery at ten so we knew we couldn’t put him at 13 – he’s quite talented but he’s not two people! Jordan found his feet very well. Keith Earls might disagree – he might have gone over in the corner. It’s a great learning opportunity for Jordan.”

Schmidt was referencing Larmour’s 57th-minute run from an overhead pass by Garry Ringrose which saw him eventually hauled down a few metres from the English line, with Earls up in support a pass on the outside. You could hardly blame the youngster for having a cut himself given Ireland had England exactly where they wanted them at 21-5.

Larmour was quick to praise the players around him when asked afterwards about what it is like being sent on to play in the Grand Slam decider. “It was very tough and physical, but having the likes of Garry when I went into 13 – because I hadn’t got many reps at 13 during the week – but having him was a big help,” admitted Larmour.

“Having Johnny, Jacob Stockdale and Garry, they were all talking to me. It was all calm, we knew the game-plan. We knew how we were going to defend, how we were going to attack. It was just about coming on and fitting in really.

“It’s pretty special (to win the Grand Slam). I remember back to 2009 when I was at home (as an 11-year-old kid) watching the lads win the second Grand Slam. It’s a special feeling to do it with this group of players.

“At the start of the season, if you told me I’d be in a Grand Slam-winning team, I wouldn’t have believed you at all. It’s been a very special year for me and it just shows that hard work can pay off. This season I was just hoping to play with Leinster ‘A’ and maybe get a few caps with the Leinster senior team. To break into that team and kick on here is really special.”

Larmour said that the Irish squad came to London determined to win the Grand Slam on their terms, despite talk of an expected backlash from a wounded England side. “We went out with a mindset to go after the game, go after England. We had to go out and take our chances and grab them with both hands. And then just have belief in your own product….don’t shy away from any challenges, just front up.”

The St. Mary’s College clubman counts himself fortunate to be able to work with coaches of the calibre of Schmidt, Andy Farrell, Richie Murphy, Leo Cullen, Stuart Lancaster and Girvan Dempsey. He has made a giant splash so early in his career, but it is clear that Larmour’s infectious appetite for hard work and improving his game will earn him further opportunities for both province and country in the near future.

While winning his first silverware with Leinster will be the next target, the prospect of a three-match tour of Australia in June when he could make his first Ireland start is one to relish. Notably, the first Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane is on the eve of Larmour’s 21st birthday.

“It’s been a good season so far. I’m just loving playing rugby at the moment and I’m just going to keep it that way,” he admitted. “It’s good to get the Grand Slam but this group has a lot more in us. We need to keep working and keep improving and building towards the World Cup – that would be the main goal. The focus shifts to the summer tour now and getting the work done so we can have a good tour.”