St. Andrew's products Larmour and Porter learning from Ireland experiences

Larmour made his Ireland debut, while Porter impressed in his first Six Nations apperance.

ROBBIE HENSHAW’S INJURY was a low point for Ireland on Saturday, but it brought about a moment of real pride for everyone attached to St. Andrew’s College in Dublin.

Jordan Larmour’s arrival into the Six Nations game against Italy meant he joined fellow St. Andrew’s graduate Andrew Porter on the pitch, the tighthead prop having replaced Tadhg Furlong early in the first half.

Jordan Larmour makes a break Larmour had one brilliant linebreak. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Another old boy, Peter Sullivan, played for the Ireland U20s on Friday night, but having two alumni involved in a senior Ireland matchday squad for the first time ever was a big moment for the school.

Not traditionally renowned as a hotbed for producing professional players, St. Andrew’s has helped to guide the likes of Felix Jones and Ben Marshall in more recent times. Porter and Larmour are now the role models to young players in the school.

For the 20-year-old Larmour, who was still playing Leinster Schools Senior Cup in 2016, Saturday was the beginning of what he hopes will be a long international career.

“I’m delighted to get my first cap and it’s even more special to have my family and friends there in the crowd,” said Larmour after Ireland’s 56-19 victory. “It was even better to get the win.”

Larmour said the nerves kicked in just before he came on for Henshaw but he had calming advice from senior players in the Ireland squad during the build-up, while he tried to ignore the hype around him on the outside of their bubble in Carton House.

There was limited opportunity for Larmour to show his attacking quality, but his sensational footwork produced a linebreak late in the game when he roamed off his wing, only a try-saving tackle from Italian fullback Matteo Minozzi denying him a debut score.

“I was dying to get on the ball,” said the Leinster man. “I came infield on one of the last plays and just got my hands on the ball. It was a tough game, it turned a bit loose towards the back end of it.

“I thought I was in but he just caught me! It would have been nice to get that but it’s all good.”

Jordan Larmour with Matteo Minozzi Larmour continues to learn. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

There were also defensive errors from Larmour in what will have been an important learning experience in his burgeoning career and he has already indicated that he will be digging into those mistakes to ensure they don’t happen again.

“I suppose I’d look at mistakes a lot and in training, I try to get into similar positions and try not to make the mistake because you need to look at them, learn from them and grow from them,” said Larmour.

“That’s a very big part, especially because I’m young and I want to be the best I can be. I need to learn from the mistakes I make.”

While Larmour may struggle to keep Ireland’s number 23 jersey for the remainder of this championship – with the likes of Fergus McFadden and Andrew Conway providing more experience – Porter impressed hugely in a 76-minute outing in the front row.

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Furlong is now a doubt for the clash with Wales in two weekends’ time – although Schmidt is hopeful he will be fit – and Porter has put his hand up in a big way.

“I was a bit shocked to be coming on after three minutes but that’s what Joe has us prepared for,” said Porter afterwards.

“It was a bit of an adrenaline rush when I did come on. It was great to get that many minutes under my belt, especially in my first Six Nations.”

Porter highlighted the good work of Leinster scrum coach Denis Fogarty and Ireland’s Greg Feek in helping his progress as a tighthead – he came into the pro game as a loosehead – and his confidence levels continue to grow.

Andrew Porter Porter had a busy afternoon. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Athletically, he is a superb specimen and his comfort in the loose was a plus for Ireland against the Italians. If Furlong is to be ruled out, John Ryan’s greater experience will be hard for Schmidt to resist, but Porter has certainly made a statement.

“Just the amount of guys we have coming up and the strength in depth in each position is incredible,” said Porter.

“Like we saw last week, Josh van der Flier going down [injured] and we saw Dan Leavy stepping up, so we have that almost across the board in each position.”

Defensively, Porter gave credit to Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell, saying he has been working hard on his tackling all season. This was another area in which he delivered for Ireland.

While Saturday’s win saw two St. Andrew’s boys on the pitch for the first time ever, there was a clear highlight for Porter in the eight-try win.

“Seeing Earlsy [Keith Earls] chasing down their winger at the end and getting that turnover – there was a great buzz after that.

“It just showed how hard lads were willing to work for each other.”

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Murray Kinsella

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