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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 18 February, 2019

Lightning Larmour backed by Ireland to step up at 15 against Pumas

‘When you see the way he goes about preparing for a game, you have a lot of confidence that he’ll deliver.’

THIS TIME LAST year, Jordan Larmour was reflecting on his first professional start at fullback for Leinster.

That milestone came against Glasgow on 3 November, with Larmour playing 80 minutes and showing his class in Leinster’s defeat, his thrilling solo run teeing Jamison Gibson-Park for an early try.

Jordan Larmour celebrates after the game Larmour celebrates Ireland's series success in Australia in June. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Larmour watched on as a supporter as Joe Schmidt’s Ireland beat South Africa and Fiji over the following weekends, and he started at fullback again for Leinster in a win over the Dragons the night before Ireland beat Argentina in their final November Test of 2017.

A year on, the 21-year-old is Ireland’s starting fullback against the Pumas, set for his second Test start in tomorrow’s clash at the Aviva Stadium [KO 6.30pm, RTÉ/Channel 4].

In all, Larmour had eight starts at fullback for Leinster last season, with three more early on in this campaign.

The former St Andrew’s College student has managed to fit a whole lot into those relatively few appearances in the position, however, his stunning try against Munster at Thomond Park last Christmas among the highlights.

His hat-trick last weekend in Chicago against Italy, a game he finished on the wing, was the latest marker of Larmour’s special talent, nurtured patiently by Schmidt last season with six appearances for Ireland off the bench.

With Rob Kearney missing through injury this weekend, the Ireland head coach is now ready to unleash Larmour as his starting fullback in a top-level Test and his team-mates are confident he can step up.

“Jordan has come on in some very big games, he started last week and he has played really well for Leinster,” said Ireland captain Rory Best after their captain’s run at the Aviva Stadium today.

“It’s going to be another test for him, for sure, but he’s a quality kid and not a lot fazes him.

Jordan Larmour Larmour during Ireland's captain's run today in Dublin. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“He will be nervous and everything that goes around starting a big Test is very different to being on the bench but seeing what he’s done – and he’s been around the squad for a few years now – he just takes things in his stride.

“He relies on the way he prepares. When you see the way he knows the moves and the way he goes about preparing for a game, you have a lot of confidence that he’ll deliver.”

Larmour’s footwork and pace thrilled Ireland fans last weekend and those who have been tracking him since his schoolboy days likely knew this emergence in Test rugby was coming.

The Leinster flyer’s skillset is rather unique, particularly the sheer speed of his footwork, and Best is excited to see what Larmour can do against the Pumas tomorrow.

“When you get to massive games like this against Argentina, there are going to be really tight moments in the game and you’re going to need somebody that can do things that maybe other people can’t do and who can create something out of nothing.

“With the footwork and acceleration he has… they have plenty of them, but it’s nice that we are bringing through guys that are so young that can do that and have done it in some significant moments, certainly for Leinster.”

Speaking after the win over Italy in Chicago, Larmour was honest in stating that he would have no fear of facing the All Blacks this month, while he also mentioned Ireland’s goal of being world champions next year.

“The beauty of some of these boys is that some of them weren’t even born when we were having tough times, and certainly they weren’t old enough to remember them,” said Best.

Jordan Larmour Larmour has had a remarkable year since last November. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“They don’t remember us getting beaten by 40, 50, 60 points in New Zealand. They weren’t part of set-ups, so they don’t have those skeletons or hang-ups that maybe some of the older guys have. And that’s great.”

Larmour’s self-belief is welcome in an era where players constantly talk up the opposition and downplay their own team’s qualities when speaking to the media, but the youngster is far from cocky.

“He’s certainly very confident in his ability but he’s certainly not over-confident,” said Best. “When he’s around the place, he’s very respectful. He chats to you, he doesn’t think he’s above anyone, he doesn’t think he’s below.

“He’s a really well brought up kid that knows how to interact in the group. He’s confident in his ability and I think it’s a sign of the group that we have so much young talent coming through.

“There’s an environment there where they can flourish and be their best, but that they also fit in as people as well.”

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Murray Kinsella

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