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Sexton on Larmour: 'He backs himself... he backed himself against 10 Scarlets on the short side'

The playmaker was a touch frustrated by the precociously talented 20-year-old.

Sean Farrell reports from the Aviva Stadium

THIS WAS A semi-final dictated by the pack, but the chance to perform on the big stage wasn’t an opportunity Jordan Larmour was going to pass up.

Still only 20 years of age, Larmour was introduced at the interval against Scarlets after Fergus McFadden was injured by a stray knee while scoring Leinster’s crucial third try on the stroke of half-time.

Within five minutes of taking the field, Larmour unleashed some of the dazzling footwork that has made him such a hot prospect in Irish rugby. Boxed in the right corner of the Scarlets 22, he jinked and bounced to find the smallest of gaps and make yards from his possession.

But at this level, the bigger picture always takes precedence over a flash of individual skill and Larmour wasn’t flooded with words of congratulations from his captain.

Post-match Johnny Sexton was asked about the conversation he had with Larmour.

“Just a friendly chat,” interjected Rob Kearney, never one to pass up a chance to highlight Sexton’s cranky side. Back to the guidance from the skipper, ever mindful of the grand scheme of things:

“He backs himself…  he backed himself against 10 Scarlets on the short side, and there’s a six-man overlap on the other side!

“I said: ‘did you call for the ball?’ And he’s like ‘yeah, yeah!’

“He managed to beat one of them.” / YouTube

The out-half is a hard task master, but it shows how acutely aware this Leinster team are of the trade-off that must occur when you bring exciting young talent in. Their confidence raises energy and exuberance across the entire squad, but the guiding voice of experienced men is critical to the success.

“That’s the beauty of those young lads, they can back themselves,” adds Sexton with the serious face donned again.

“He had a great game in the second half. When you lose a player like Fergus who brings so much to the team, to have him stepping in and the quality he brings was brilliant.”

Larmour will learn quickly from Sexton’s advice today. A comprehensive victory in a sun-drenched semi-final is nice way to pick up a lesson compared to the rough education that has shaped Leinster’s entire season building up to this game. The home loss to 14 Scarlets in the Pro12 semi-final and the loss to Clermont which preceded it last season have haunted the halls of the province’s UCD base.

Jonathan Sexton celebrates scoring a try Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“I said we’d find out today,” said Sexton after his team meticulously showed all their work to completely nullify Scarlets.

“I’d say we did learn a few lessons. We came out and I think we looked a different team compared to the semi-final last year. We are in many ways, some of the pack who played today weren’t around last year and they made a big difference today.

“It’s just really pleasing that our hard work over the last few weeks paid off today. At the same time we know the biggest challenge is ahead of us.”

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