Watching Tuisova, Radradra and Kolbe the RWC highlights for elusive Larmour

The 22-year-old starts at fullback for Ireland against Samoa today.

BEFORE JORDON LARMOUR can have a chat with the waiting Irish journalists, Joe Schmidt is keen for a word.

With the 22-year-old set for his second start at fullback in this World Cup, the Ireland head coach is evidently eager to get as much one-on-one coaching time with Larmour as possible.

Schmidt is animated as he speaks to the Leinster youngster, mimicking catching a high ball and getting a tight ‘cradle’ in front of him, keeping his elbows close together to ensure the imaginary ball doesn’t slip through his grasp.

jordan-larmour Jordan Larmour starts at 15 for Ireland today in Rob Kearney's absence. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Larmour nods along with avid attention before eventually being released to speak with the media about his big chance against Samoa in Fukuoka today [KO 11.45am Irish time, eir Sport/RTÉ].

The fullback smiles and shakes his head when asked for more detail about what Schmidt had been sharing with him, but Larmour is in no doubt about how exciting a chance he has against the Samoans.

The St Mary’s College RFC man has thoroughly enjoyed this World Cup so far, having been involved in all three Ireland games so far and also watched every minute of action from the other games that he’s been able to.

“The two Fiji wingers,” says Larmour when asked which players he has found best to watch, highlighting Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova’s showing against Wales this week.

“They were incredible. Just seeing them, it’s fun to watch and I think everyone is the same. The try [Tuisova] scored in the corner, his finish was pretty incredible. It’s cool to watch.

“Cheslin Kolbe,” continues Larmour with a nod to the diminutive but brilliant Springboks wing. “His feet have been ridiculous, especially against New Zealand, he was doing some pretty incredible stuff.

“I played against him twice last year [for Leinster against Toulouse], so that was pretty cool. I think he went under Scott Fardy’s legs at the RDS if you remember that one. There has been a lot of rugby played and brilliant individuals. It’s been fun watching it.”

Larmour is the kind of player people find fun to watch too. It hasn’t always opened up for him so far and he has had errors like the intercepted pass against Japan, when he had been forced to shift to outside centre due to injuries, but there is little doubt about his attacking skill.

jordan-larmour-with-finn-russell Larmour is an elusive attacking threat. Source: Craig Mercer/INPHO

“Any time you have the ball in hand, you’re assessing your options, seeing what the best thing to do is – run, kick or pass,” says Larmour of his approach.

“If there’s a half-gap there, you go for it. Sometimes you get tackled and sometimes you get through and you make a break. Every game is different, it’s just trying to read what the defence is doing and trying to see where you can make your break or try to get over the gainline and create something.”

Larmour’s involvement in Garry Ringrose’s try against Russia was particularly eye-catching, as he beat two Russian defenders, passed to Keith Earls, accepted the return offload, and sent Ringrose clear to score with an inside pass.

“It was actually good thinking by Jack [Carty] and Bundee [Aki] with the quick 22 and then I just saw we had numbers and they were short,” explains Larmour. “I just tried to get the ball in my hands early and there was a little bit of space there and I went through and then Earlsy was on the outside, give it to him.

“Then I think it was the other [Russian] winger, from the other side, came across when I got it back and then Garry was inside supporting so I laid it off to him to go in under the sticks.”

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There is much more to good fullback play than attacking, of course, and as Larmour steps into Rob Kearney’s shoes – the veteran sustained a groin strain against Russia last week – he must assume responsibility for the backfield too.

Covering swathes of space in behind Ireland’s frontline is something Kearney excels at and Larmour has been learning from him.

“He’s probably one of the best in the world at grass-field cover, so you can learn a huge amount from him. Any time he’s playing or training, just trying to learn from him, even now just trying to pick his brains and see what he thinks of different scenarios,” says Larmour.

jordan-larmour The 22-year-old is the youngest player in Ireland's squad. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“He’s been a massive help to my game. Getting to play with him and train with him is pretty cool and you can learn a lot from him.

“It’s a bit of everything. Your positioning, where you’re starting off, then reading body language when a 10 is shaping up to kick – you know, reading that early and being in the right position at the right time.

“Little things like that – where you’re starting off, then reading body language and cues are probably the two big things.”

In that sense, training against Johnny Sexton is extremely useful, explains Larmour. The Ireland out-half doesn’t give easy cues for opposition defences.

Today will be Larmour’s sixth start in Ireland’s 15 shirt and he will hope to do enough to truly challenge Kearney’s status as first-choice ahead of a possible World Cup quarter-final. 

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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