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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 8 July, 2020

Dual-international Larmour looks to make a name for himself in a green shirt

Big things are expected of the Ireland U20 winger after impressive performances at schoolboy and provincial level.

JORDAN LARMOUR ISN’T the type of guy who lacks confidence, particularly on a rugby pitch, but this is all new territory for him; the cameras, the questions and the glare of publicity.

‘This is my first one,’ he announces upon his arrival for media duty in the hotel lobby.

Jordan Larmour In the limelight: Ireland U20 winger Jordan Larmour. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He is, of course, referring to his first interview and certainly for many young players, it’s often an uneasy experience. They don’t want to say the wrong thing, so saying as little as possible can regularly be the object of the exercise.

Larmour, however, doesn’t appear to get overawed too easily and he takes it all in his stride with minimal fuss. To be fair, he has a lot to talk about and there are a lot of people talking about him.

The 19-year-old is one of the most exciting prospects in Nigel Carolan’s U20s squad and made his debut at this level in Friday night’s win over Scotland.

“You kind of have to embrace everything else that’s going on and try not to think about it,” he says of the extra attention.

“You do notice a step up, everyone’s bigger and faster. The game is a lot quicker and the hits are a lot harder. You just put your head down and keep working at it. Once you’re in the game you forget about the physicality and all that. You just play rugby.”

He’s doing alright so far.

Ireland weren’t at their best at Broadwood Stadium and conditions hardly allowed them to play an expansive game but anyone who has come across Larmour will appreciate his talent.

Jordan Larmour Larmour is a member of Leinster's sub-academy. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The brief glimpses we did get of the winger on the opening weekend gave an indication of what he offers; speed, energy, direct running and an ability to find a gap. It’s not a bad skillset, particularly when you consider he was forced to show another side to his game in Cumbernauld.

The hope will be that Ireland’s back line will get more of a chance to express themselves as the tournament progresses, especially in the home games on Donnybrook’s 4G surface.

It was at that venue where Larmour first came to the prominence as he starred for St Andrew’s College in various cup campaigns. His performance in last year’s Senior Cup defeat to St Michael’s was further proof of his potential and why there is such excitement around him.

He played centre that day but has since changed to the wing.

“Centre is where I was from day one in school and I really enjoyed it but long term I think the back three is where I’ll be looking at,” he explains.

“You’ve Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw in the centre at Leinster, that’s very tough. The wing is just as tough to get onto but for me at the moment I’m preferring the wing. I haven’t played centre in a while but I can see myself playing wing. I back myself.”

There’s that confidence again. He speaks of the current competition in the Leinster squad with every intention of breaking into Leo Cullen’s plans in the not too distant future.

Indeed, he’s highly thought of at the province and big things are already expected.

Calvin Nash with Jordan Larmour In action against Munster's Development side for Leinster U20s. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

After completing his Leaving Certificate last year, Larmour earned a place in the Leinster sub-academy and regularly trains with the senior panel as well as lining out for the A side in the British and Irish Cup.

A couple of good showings during this Six Nations will advance his cause no end.

“It’s a bigger platform, there’s more people watching and all that,” he continues. “But rugby is the main priority, that’s number one, but you are always thinking about who is watching and you want to be at your best and play at your best.”

It rings true: you just never know who is watching and taking notice.

“I was just sitting at home, I think it was a Sunday afternoon at about 12 o’clock, and my phone rings, an unknown number,” Larmour recalls.

“I answered and it was Joe Schmidt on the phone. I thought it was one of the lads messing with me at first and he was like can you be up here [Carton House] at ‘like two or three o’clock’ and I didn’t know what to do and I told my Dad and he didn’t believe me.

“He was like ‘nah it’s one of the lads’ but yeah it was an unreal experience going up there to train. All of the lads were so nice, actually Josh van der Flier took me under his wing as he presented me with my jersey back in school so I kind of knew him. Everyone was great, everyone was really helpful.”

That experience of training with Schmidt’s squad in the build-up to last year’s November Tests gave Larmour an insight into the standards at international level and it only served to motivate him further. He got a taste of that environment, and wants to be part of it again.

“It motivated me even more, seeing what they do and how they good they are,” he admits. “I just want to be at that level all the time. It was a really good experience and really enjoyed it.

Jordan Larmour Larmour is one of a number of talented rugby players to come out of St Andrew's College in recent years. Source: Inpho

“I talked to Joe a little bit, I was talking to Garry Ringrose a good bit and Josh van der Flier.

“If you keep on form like, playing well in the Six Nations and then through the World Cup people start talking about you even more and you get exposed to the type of coaching we have and the players and it just motivates you even more, spurs you on even more.”

Rugby has always been Larmour’s passion and from a young age he always wanted to make it as a professional, but it wasn’t the only sport he excelled at through his school years; he’s one of those annoyingly multi-talented guys who is good at anything he tries.

As a traditionally strong hockey-playing school, Larmour represented St Andrew’s at both sports from first year and would go onto win All-Ireland titles and Ireland underage caps during his time in Booterstown.

“The last time I played a game of hockey was probably sixth year,” he says. “I played in the All-Irelands one last time. We made it to the semi-finals but got knocked out by Wesley I think.”

“My parents always encouraged me to do both, and all my teachers and coaches always said do both. In sixth year, I was going to do both but after the All-Irelands something just, I don’t know, I took a year out of hockey because I was injured.

“I had an ACL in my knee and I came back to it and didn’t enjoy it as much as I did beforehand so then I decided I’d just stick with the rugby.

Kiko Von Eockstedt and Jordan Larmour Larmour during his hockey days back in 2013. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I had a pretty good relationship with the hockey coach in Andrew’s and I’d train rugby three times a week but on a Friday I’d do an hour of rugby and an hour of hockey because the hockey was 5-6 and rugby was 4-5. That gave me a bit of space to let me go do my rugby and do the hour of hockey.

“But rugby is what I wanted to do for as long as I can remember. It’s all I ever wanted to do.”

Larmour definitively swayed towards rugby in fourth year when he was selected for the Irish U18s squad alongside Jonny Guy after St Andrew’s had stormed to the Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-finals.

“That’s probably when it hit me that I wanted to do this,” he adds, and you get the feeling he made the right decision in chasing a career in rugby. He has a bright future ahead.

That wasn’t too bad, was it?

“No, it was grand actually,” he laughs.

The first of many, you’d imagine.

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Ryan Bailey

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