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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019

'Nothing fazes him': Cullen backs Larmour to take on Toulouse

Leinster’s head coach says his 21-year-old fullback is ‘getting better all the time’. A frightening prospect.

Larmour competes in the air with Elliot Daly.
Larmour competes in the air with Elliot Daly.
Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland

IT SEEMS AN odd thing to say about a player who celebrated his 21st birthday during the summer, but Leo Cullen backed the experience within Jordan Larmour to help him through another tough test on Sunday.

Leinster go to Toulouse this weekend to face their fellow four-time Heineken Champions Cup winners. With a quad complaint limiting Rob Kearney in training this week, Larmour has been entrusted with the fullback role.

The former St Andrew’s star has excelled in that position already this season, not least in Kearney’s absence against Wasps,  with his agility and energetic running lines posing a constant threat in attack and leading to three tries already in this campaign.

“He was on the wing last year against (Montpellier’s Nemani) Nadolo and he did well. He’s had a ton of experience since then,” said Cullen.

That experience, of course, includes Larmour playing a part in the Grand Slam, Leinster’s double success and Ireland’s tour of Australia. And with every achievement his potential is filled a little more.

“Jordan is someone who is getting better all the time. He works really hard, very studious about his game. It’s a big challenge for him, but he’s been through so much already. Nothing really fazes him.”

The Nadolo experience isn’t one that tends to easily slip the mind. Stampeding man-mountains have that way about them.

“They’re big boys anyway,” Larmour says of the lessons learned from facing Montpellier last season. 

“Just kind of dealing with the whole occasion and the crowd, it was my first time playing at that level in France so just trying to stay calm and composed.

“Robbie (Henshaw) was a great help, he was playing 13 that game so he was just talking to me in defence, I was trying to stay connected with him and then just trying to take down the big man.”

Jordan Larmour, James Lowe, Tom Daly and Adam Byrne Larmour, James Lowe, Tom Daly and Adam Byrne at training early this season. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“It comes from training, you prepare for everything so you’re always working on what ever you need to work on. Whether that’s defence or high balls or passing or kicking. But yeah, you can always go back and say ‘oh, I did that before’, so it kind of helps you in the long run, knowing in the back of your head that you’ve done it before.”

Injury to Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden has meant that Larmour will be joined in the back three by ex-Montpellier back Joe Tomane and man of the moment James Lowe — Dan Leavy’s calf keeps him out of the back row again.

Toulouse boast their most dazzling threats in the back-line too with Cheslin Kolbe, Romain N’tamack and the vastly experienced Maxime Medard giving the home side a dangerous edge.

“Their back three are electric,” adds Larmour, who ought to know,  “and they thrive off counter-attack so our kicking game has to be on point.

“We can’t kick loosely to them because if we do they’re going to tear us apart. We’ve got to be on point in our kicking game, defence and our chase and not give them cheap ball to attack us from.”

We know that we have a target on our back and that teams are out to get us. So we’re up for every challenge. We always say ‘bring it on’, you know.

“We’re defending it but we don’t have that mindset – we’re going to get it again. The talent we have in our squad and the leaders we have, just driving it every day, it’s pretty exciting and good fun.”

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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Sean Farrell

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