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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 18 December, 2018

'I'm loving it so far, it's great for me and my family but I still have a lot more to show'

Jordan Larmour has enjoyed a remarkable debut season in Leinster colours and is in line to feature against Munster on St Stephen’s Day. He is taking it all in his stride.

Larmour pictured outside UCD HQ this week.
Larmour pictured outside UCD HQ this week.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

METEORIC RISE DOESN’T really describe the way in which Jordan Larmour has burst onto the scene this season because anyone who had seen him play previous to this year knew he was capable of doing exactly what he has done.

The 20-year-old had long been earmarked as a prodigious talent and it was only a matter of time before his ability was recognised on a much larger stage, but even still the pressure of fulfilling that potential can often weigh heavy on young shoulders.

So it says a lot about Larmour’s attitude and temperament that he has taken all of it in his stride and is now — just four months after his senior debut, and technically in his second year of the academy programme — a regular fixture in the Leinster squad having featured 10 times already this term, including appearances in the back-to-back Champions Cup games against Exeter Chiefs just gone.

It also says a lot about the fullback/winger’s performances and overall impact that he was this week named as Leinster’s player of the month for November and is now widely-considered as the most exciting young prospect in the country.

“It’s been good,” he says, nonchalantly.

“It’s tough coming from U20s into a setup like this. Everything is more intense: training, meetings, gym work, pitch work. But I’ve really enjoyed it. The environment in here is top notch.

“Everyone is here to work for each other and work hard for each other. It’s a very honest group. You step out of line or you make mistakes and someone lets you know about it. They do it in a nice way, a productive way.

“I suppose the coaching and training you get at U20 level it helps you too: it kicks you on when you’re coming to here [senior rugby]. It’s kind of, not overwhelming, but still a step up. Like, you’re playing with Lions. I don’t know how many Irish caps there are — tons, all over the place.

“I’m just loving it so far.”

How could he not?

Described as ‘something special’ by Leo Cullen and ‘electric’ by captain Isa Nacewa is just a measure of how highly-rated he is at Leinster.

A product of the St Andrew’s College programme spearheaded by David Jones, Charlie Doel and Ian Dumbleton, Larmour’s talent was nurtured and developed during his time in schools rugby and his potential was clear at underage level.

Jordan Larmour Larmour has made 10 appearances this season, scoring three tries. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Larmour was the outstanding performer during Ireland’s U20 Six Nations campaign last year and was set to star at the Junior World Championship in June but an ankle injury sustained on club duty with St Mary’s required surgery and meant he was sidelined for a number of weeks.

It actually proved to be a blessing in disguise.

In working his way back to full fitness, Larmour was able to spend the summer working closely with the Leinster squad and when the friendly games against Gloucester and Bath arrived in August, he was ready to seize his opportunity.

A second-half brace against Gloucester was a sign of things to come and Larmour’s progress has been on an upward trajectory from there, as he made his Guinness Pro14 on the opening weekend of the season against Dragons and, furthermore, marked the occasion with a first senior try.

The milestones have come and gone since, but the highlight moment — and perhaps the breakthrough one — came on the last weekend in October when he came off the bench against Ulster and set the inter-pro derby alight with a virtuoso score, slaloming his way through the home defence and demonstrating why exactly he is being talked about so much.

“It was a very special moment for me,” he smiles. “It did give my confidence a bit of a boost I suppose. I kind of just backed myself in that instance. It was probably the first time I backed myself in a game for Leinster — I just went for it.

“It was very special for me and my family because it was the first big try I scored for Leinster. I grew up watching Leinster and always wanted to play for Leinster. I grew up watching Johnny Sexton, Brian O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Isa Nacewa, and I always wanted to do what they were doing. And now I have the opportunity to do it.”

Larmour is living the dream, but perhaps more impressive than his explosive ability is his hard-working and level-headed approach. It would be easy for someone so young who has enjoyed a remarkable rise to get carried away, to become too confident.

Things have gone well for Larmour so far, but at the same time he realises the importance of soaking up as much information and knowledge he can whether it’s from the coaches or team-mates during this development stage.

“I kind of got off to a slow start I suppose,” the former Andrew’s schoolboy admits.

“I didn’t show too much in the first few games and then kind of got a few more chances off the bench and I showed what I could do. I still think I’ve a lot more to show. All I can do is keep working hard, keep playing well, keep training well and keep putting my hand up. Then it’s down to the coaches.

“The team we have, there are so many players, there’s so much depth, so if one person gets injured, someone needs to be ready to step up. Everyone here trains as hard as they can and plays as hard as they can and just waits for their opportunity, I suppose.”

Larmour’s statistics are phenomenal; he has the most metres gained (528), most clean breaks (11) and most defenders beaten (24) of any Leinster player this season and already has three tries to his name.

Leinster’s Jordan Larmour runs in to score a try from Ulster’s Aaron Cairns His solo score against Ulster provided Larmour with a huge confidence boost. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

He’s likely to be involved against Munster on St Stephen’s Day, too, but a word first for St Andrew’s College, who now have two former pupils in the Leinster squad and another, Greg Jones, on the books at Ulster.

In addition to the current crop, Felix Jones and Ben Marshall both came through the Booterstown school’s system.

“St Andrews isn’t really known for rugby — more the hockey side of things,” Larmour explains, he himself a former schoolboy hockey international.

On the recent success of the school’s rugby programme, he continues: “It comes down to S&C [strength and conditioning] coach David Jones and then Charlie Doel — he’s the director of rugby there — and the coach, Ian Dumbleton.

“They have all gone through Andrew’s and are really passionate about Andrew’s. I think that makes a big difference. David Jones and the strength and conditioning programme he has for the lads is one of the best I’ve seen. He’s incredibly good at his job and very passionate about what he does.

“Charlie Doel; he lives and breathes rugby — the same with Ian Dumbleton. I actually do a bit of coaching at St Andrew’s as I know a few of them because I played with a few of them when I was in sixth year and they were in fourth year.

“It’s getting more serious in Andrew’s. I know when I was in sixth year there were a few times when lads wouldn’t be turning up for training and things like that. But they’re coming down harder on lads like that, and I suppose when you see the likes of Andrew Porter doing well, the lads get a bit of a kick out of that and it probably motivates them to go and train and strive to do what he’s doing now.”

Larmour is in line to come up against Felix Jones and Munster on Tuesday on what will be another landmark day for the Leinster back in front of a record-breaking crowd at Thomond Park.

Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Player of the Month for November The 20-year-old was named BOI Leinster player of the month for November this week. Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

“It’s great for me and my family — we all grew up supporting Leinster, going to all the games in the Aviva. Especially playing my first game in the Aviva, that was great, because I grew up watching the likes of Johnny, Isa, all them playing in the Aviva, so it was a really special moment for me and my family.”

And what about his first memory of a Leinster-Munster inter-pro?

“The one that stands out to me was in the Heineken Cup semi-final [in 2009], when BOD got the interception from Ronan O’Gara,” he recalls. “I was there with my friends, and when I saw that I knew ‘that’s what I wanted to do.’”

And here he is; perhaps meteoric rise is the best way to describe it, after all.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Ryan Bailey

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