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Larmour's outstanding U20 Six Nations shows why Joe Schmidt is a fan

‘You could put Jordan at nine or 10 and he’d probably do as well, he’s just an outstanding player.’

Updated 3.15pm

AFTER THE IRELAND U20s finished their Six Nations campaign with an agonising 14-10 defeat to Grand Slam winners England last Friday night, Jordan Larmour was the name on everyone’s lips at Donnybrook.

The Ireland fullback was superb once again for Nigel Carolan’s side, cutting past English defenders almost every time he was in possession and generally thrilling the crowd with his footwork, balance, power and acceleration.

Over the course of this year’s championship, Larmour showed exactly why Joe Schmidt is among his fans, with the Ireland coach having called him into senior national squad training last November.

Jordan Larmour Larmour had a superb U20 Six Nations for Ireland. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

It capped off an outstanding championship for Larmour, who played on the right wing in Ireland’s first three games – scoring two tries against Italy – before a move into fullback for the clashes with Wales and France.

“It’s the first time really, I’ve only played two matches at fullback,” said Larmour of the shift to 15. “I am really enjoying it though – I get a bit more ball, in the action a bit more.

“Field position is the challenge, reading the 10 and knowing when he’s going to kick it, but I’m really enjoying it. I’m open to playing anywhere and it adds another string to my bow, but fullback, wing – I’m happy with either.”

Larmour is a product of St. Andrew’s College and impressed at outside centre in his school days. However, his attacking skillset is suited to the back three and it was always likely that he would advance up the age grades and into senior rugby out wide.

Ireland coach Carolan feels that Larmour would make an impact from anywhere in the backline, but given the strength of Calvin Nash and Tommy O’Brien on the wings, it made sense to slot Larmour into fullback in the latter stages of the Six Nations.

“You could put Jordan at nine or 10 and he’d probably do as well, he’s just an outstanding player,” said Carolan. “There are a few bits that could certainly be polished, but he’s certainly got real x-factor.

“He’s so dangerous on the ball and it was just important we had all our best players on the pitch to give us a chance. Whether he’s at fullback, on the wing, he’s equally good.”

Jordan Larmour Larmour in St. Andrew's College colours last year. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

A St. Mary’s College RFC clubman, Larmour is currently a member of the Leinster sub-academy and will progress onto a full academy contract with his native province next season.

He has already been involved with Leo Cullen’s senior squad on the training pitch and has has six British and Irish Cup caps to his name already, including two starts on the right wing and three tries.

Larmour has also enjoyed that honour of being called into senior Ireland training at Carton House under Schmidt.

Indeed, Schmidt is a big fan of the 19-year-old’s abilities, and one can only imagine that the Ireland coach feels he could help Larmour become an even better player.

While Larmour – who also impressed as a hockey player in St. Andrew’s – possesses a brilliant individual running threat, there is scope for improving his awareness and distribution when in possession.

It’s likely that those skills are the next stage in Larmour’s ongoing development, but Carolan doesn’t see any reason why the U20s star cannot step into senior rugby sooner rather than later.

At Donnybrook last Friday, there were early calls for Schmidt – watching on from the main stand – to fast-track the exciting U20s star into Ireland’s senior set-up and Carolan believes the potential is there.

“There’s certain aspects to his game, but I think within the next year, with the appropriate exposure that he gets over the next six to eight months, he can’t be a million miles away,” said Carolan.

Larmour himself is showing no signs of over-confidence despite his clear promise, and was focusing on the collective after Ireland’s defeat to England, a result that came despite a performance the fullback said was “the best we’ve played all season.”

Jordan Larmour Larmour will advance into the Leinster academy next season. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“The ball was a bit greasy and the floodlights at one point, the ball was kicked to me and I didn’t know where it was,” said Larmour of his own display. “But I’m happy enough, even with a good few work-ons after this.”

Currently enjoying a hard-earned week off after the Six Nations, Larmour and his fellow U20 players will return to their club and provincial set-ups next week to start into the next block of their development, but the Junior World Championship is already in mind.

Ireland will travel to Georgia at the end of May to take on a pool containing New Zealand, Italy and Georgia, eager to build on what they feel has been clear progress over the course of the Six Nations.

Larmour has made an impact, but he’s simply keen to keep getting better as part of this Ireland U20 side.

“The World Cup is going to be a big challenge, so I’ll try and get another pre-season under my belt. In the gym, get the fitness levels up, skills up, then just come back raring to go.

“Everyone in the changing room is disappointed [after the England defeat], but we know we’re going to come back stronger from this. A lot of positives and everyone is raring to go for the World Cup. We can’t wait.”

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Murray Kinsella

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