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'I was just hoping to play with Leinster A and maybe get a few caps with the senior team'

20-year-old Grand Slam winner Jordan Larmour has far exceeded his hopes for the season.

THERE WAS A sense coming into Ireland’s Grand Slam shot against England that Jordan Larmour, the 20-year-old Joe Schmidt picked on his bench, was going to have an influential part to play.

The composed young Leinster back may have felt he could make an important impact on the game too, but not many would have predicted it would come at outside centre.

Jordan Larmour, Andrew Porter and Bundee Aki celebrate winning Larmour [left] with Andrew Porter, Bundee Aki and Ireland's trophies. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

While Larmour has played there for Leinster and came through St. Andrew’s College playing much of his rugby in midfield, his rapid rise in professional rugby has come at fullback or on the wing.

But after Bundee Aki got his head on the wrong side of a tackle on Jonathan Joseph and had to be helped off the pitch, Larmour was sprung into action in the 56th minute in midfield, with Garry Ringrose shifting to the inside centre role.

Joey Carbery was still on the Ireland bench at that point, but knowing that Johnny Sexton would be unlikely to last the entire 80 minutes, Schmidt opted to hold him back for slightly later.

“Jordan Larmour hadn’t trained at 13 at all, but we were going to put Joey Carbery at 10 so we knew we couldn’t put him at 13,” said Schmidt. “He’s quite talented but he’s not two people.”

Despite not having trained at outside centre, Larmour acquitted himself impressively for Ireland, making five strong tackles, slipping off just one, while he very nearly scored a try after Ringrose’s inventive basketball-style overhead pass.

Schmidt couldn’t resist pointing out that Larmour perhaps should have passed in that instance, however.

“Jordan found his feet very well,” said Schmidt. “Keith Earls might disagree; he might have gone over in the corner. It’s a great learning opportunity for Jordan.”

Even if he is still picking up valuable lessons all the time, Larmour was thrilled to be part of a Grand Slam success on what was just his third cap.

Andrew Porter, CJ Stander and Jordan Larmour celebrate after the game Larmour came on in the 56th minute. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“It’s pretty special,” said Larmour. “I remember back to 2009 [he was 11 at the time] when I was at home watching the lads win the second Grand Slam. It’s a special feeling to do it with this group of players.

“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.

“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 been a whirlwind season – though mainly highs – for Larmour, who has gone from Leinster’s academy to being a member of the Grand Slam-winning 23 in what seems like the blink of an eye.

The St. Mary’s man certainly hadn’t set his sights on achieving this much at the beginning of the campaign.

“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.

“At the start of the 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.”

It will be interesting to see what happens with Larmour back at Leinster in the coming weeks, given their competition for back three places.

Fergus McFadden, Jordan Larmour, Joey Carbery, CJ Stander, Jacob Stockdale, Peter O'Mahony, Andrew Porter, Kieran Marmion, Ian Henderson and John Ryan Larmour and some of his fellow Grand Slam winners. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

He says Schmidt has been pushing him to constantly improve on the basic skills like tackling and rucking, and Larmour will now hope to play an even more prominent role on Ireland’s tour of Australia this summer.

His international career is only getting started, but Larmour can see plenty of room for improvement in this Ireland group.

“It’s good to get this 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 but we have another Six Nations and then we have a summer tour.

“The focus shifts to the summer tour now and getting the work done so we can have a good tour.”

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Murray Kinsella

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