Larmour soaking up knowledge from ‘world class’ Rob Kearney
Larmour has switched between wing and fullback in his 12 European appearances
Leinster’s Jordan Larmour in action against Lyon dueing the Heineken Champions Cup game at the Stade de Gerland. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
Jordan Larmour has started Leinster’s last 12 Heineken Champions Cup matches dating back to their 2018 final victory over Racing 92. There is a neat symmetry to one aspect of the figures in that they have been split evenly, six apiece, between wing and fullback.
It is therefore hardly a surprise that he refuses to be drawn on which position he prefers. “At the moment I’m enjoying playing both, one game at fullback, one game on the wing,” a reference to the matches in this season’s tournament against Benetton and Lyon respectively.
“Wherever the team needs me, I’m happy to play. The big thing for me is just getting game time because I think you need [it] to really improve and grow as a player. As long as I’m getting that I’m happy out.”
On Saturday Leinster travel to Franklin’s Gardens to take on the Northampton Saints and head coach Leo Cullen may elect to retain the backline shape from their last outing in Europe against Lyon with Rob Kearney at fullback and Larmour on the wing.
Despite occasionally competing for a jersey the two enjoy a good relationship. Larmour explained: “I get on really well with Rob. That relationship has grown over the last two or three years and he is obviously still a world-class player and there’s lots I can still learn from him.
“He’s a good guy to have around and talk through things. When we are working we are working and when we are off we are having the craic. It’s never been said or anything but I can go to him for things I need to work on or things I can ask him about. We are still competing for the same position at the end of the day so there is still that element of competitiveness there while helping each other out as well.
“We can both learn things from each other’s games. That’s the beauty about this environment; everyone is keen on working together to get better. If I can take a few things from his game and add them to mine then that is definitely a plus.”
This season Hugo Keenan has added his name to the fullback discussion with a series of excellent displays in the Pro14 and at some point he may get the opportunity to step up to European fare. “Hugo has been going really well. We saw it last weekend as well [in the victory over the Glasgow Warriors].
“Every time he puts on the blue jersey he puts a great shift in so there are definitely things I can learn from Hugo as well. There’s a lot of competition in the squad. You need that to get better and drive the standard. It keeps everyone on their toes.”
Northampton have started the season well in the Premiership, winning four of five matches to climb to the top of the table and have done so with an enterprising brand of rugby to which their backs have added value.
Larmour said: “As we’ve seen this season they are a huge attacking threat and with Dan Biggar pulling the strings it makes for a really dangerous backline. As for [individual] players, it’s their whole backline really. They have pace, power and footwork, especially on the wings. It’s going to be a tough team to stop so hopefully we get our stuff right.”
Leinster’s record against their English opponents is excellent, winning six of the seven clashes in Europe, but their hosts will take some confidence from current form and the momentum it generates. Franklin’s Gardens is an atmospheric stadium, lending a perception that the supporters are on top of the players. Larmour has never played there but is looking forward to the experience. “A few of the lads have been telling me about what a cool place it is to play.”
That last sentiment will be predicated on how Leinster fare during the game. The Irish province leads the way in terms of their tackle completion, running at 90 per cent in Europe, but as the win against Lyon demonstrated they need to be a little more ruthlessness when taking opportunities presented if they want to enjoy some room to breathe during matches.
As the season unfurls the World Cup in Japan recedes bit by bit but Larmour is happy to take whatever positives he can glean from the experience.
“My game has grown a bit from last season and it’s just important that I keep trying to improve that in training and in matches, keep developing as a player but the World Cup experience has definitely helped me a lot.”
He will be keen to endorse that come Saturday.