Jordan Larmour freed up after selection for World Cup squad
Ireland player tells of sitting beside his phone all day hoping he did not get a call
Ireland’s Jordan Larmour charges at Wales’s Hadleigh Parkes and Jonathan Davies during the World Cup warm-up at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
It was a phone call that none of the Ireland players wanted to receive last Sunday week, to see head coach Joe Schmidt’s number pop up on the screen meant only one thing, the news that they would not be part of Ireland’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Jordan Larmour was tempted to turn off the phone, but knew that he would not be able to ward off bad tidings – at some point he would have to turn it on again. Instead he did what every self-respecting young man would in the circumstances and willed it not to ring.
Speaking after another tidy performance on Ireland’s right wing in the 19-10 victory over Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, he offered an insight into his emotional state on the previous weekend.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking. I was sitting beside my phone all day just hoping I didn’t get a call. The email came through late enough, and obviously when I saw it I was chuffed. It’s a dream come true, and my family were chuffed as well. It was a special feeling.
“I suppose you always have doubts in the back of your head. What if, what if, what if? I was just praying I wasn’t going to get a call and thankfully I didn’t.”
His versatility, an ability to play wing, fullback and outside centre, offered a persuasive argument for inclusion in the Irish squad that travels to Japan, but the theoretical side had to be backed by the hard evidence of performance in the World Cup warm-up matches.
No one disputes the 22-year-old’s attacking brio but he had to convince that he could defend, kick and cover to a high level too. His display in Ireland’s most recent match against Wales contained some impressive defensive elements, decisive in his option taking.
Larmour said: “I do a lot of work on it in training. I sat down at the start of the year and went through some of the parts of the game I wanted to improve on and that’s one of them. It’s such a big part of the game.
“Getting to learn off the likes of Earlsy [Keith Earls], Garry [Ringrose] and Robbie [Henshaw], they’re such good defenders [has helped me]. When they’re playing inside you [in the defensive line] it makes your job a hell of a lot easier. It is something I’ve been working on this pre-season, and I’ll continue to work on it.
“We put a lot of emphasis during the week on our defence because going back to Twickenham, it wasn’t good enough. That was in the back of everyone’s mind, wanting to put a marker down and, I think we did that.”
The thumping at England’s hands peppers most conversations with players. It still offers a raw reminder about the perils of switching off mentally or physically.
Larmour said: “We always put pressure on ourselves to play well. We never feel as if there is no pressure on us. We talked about laying down a marker and drawing a line in the sand after what happened in Twickenham. It wasn’t acceptable, and we really focused on getting the performance we wanted.
“This whole summer series we’ve always been trying to build, with Japan always in the back of our minds. We were just focusing on getting a performance we could be proud of. Joe’s last game in the Aviva, that was a big thing and for Bestie [Rory Best] too. They’ve given so much to Irish rugby, so pleased how it went.”
Freed from the uncertainty of making the squad, Larmour set about trying to earn a starting jersey. “It’s a dream come true. I just want to get to Japan and start to prep for the first game.”